In all countries of the world, where the aquaculture industry is well developed, the maintenance of fish breeding nets is in great demand. Even in North Africa, where the marine aquaculture industry is only developing, we can already see that maintenance services have been installed. In Russia, such a service is usually used only by large marine farms. What are the prospects for this trend in the Russian market? What is required for its successful development?
The service includes the whole range of technological operations for repair, cleaning, anti-fouling coating and drying. In many foreign countries there are special companies that provide such outsourcing services.
The operating director of the Danish company Aqua Culture Supply Larisa Kurganskaya, who has more than 20 years of experience at fish farming in Russia, told us about the equipment needed to maintain net cages, focusing on internal realities.
“Our company has been specializing in the supply of equipment for the maintenance of net cages for more than 10 years. Since no manufacturer can provide a comprehensive solution, we work with a network of international business partners from Norway, Germany, Italy and Turkey,” Larisa Kurganskaya says. “In the course of cooperation an entire maintenance station for net cages was developed. It consists of a submersible tank or vacuum impregnation, a drum dryer or dryer, winches and a control module.”
1. Washing machine. It must be of sufficient capacity and suitable for nets for fish farming of any size. Reliability and performance are also very important. The washing machine can work with both fresh and seawater. Aqua Culture Supply can supply washing machines with volumes from 5 to 60 m³.
By automating the washing process, you can save a huge amount of time and labor. The installation of such equipment will require sources of water and energy, sewage, as well as the area for its placement. One washing time is about 60–120 minutes with a water consumption of 3-4 tons, depending on how dirty the network is.
2. Antifouling to protect against fouling netting. The treatment of nets with a special coating protects them from soft and hard pollution, such as algae, as well as from settling of shells and mussels. If networks treated with an anti-fouling coating, then oxygen can circulate more actively through them, creating favorable conditions for the health of the fish. Due to this processing, the network needs to be erased only once a year. The coating is friendly to environment and compatible with various materials.
To apply anti-fouling coating, you will need a submersible tank with a depth of 1.5 to 2 meters, a mixer for mixing paint before processing and a lifting system or winches. After treatment against fouling, aquaculture cage nets can remain in the water for up to 12 months. The annual use of anti-fouling coatings can extend the service life of aquaculture cage nets up to 2 years. The usual period of using nets without any coverage is about 4–5 years, and with an annual anti-fouling coverage the nets lifespan increases to 6–8 years.
Aqua Culture Supply company has various types of anti-fouling coatings. It is the only company that can supply antifouling without oxide of copper, specifically designed for fresh water.
All ACS anti-fouling agents are registered and certified in accordance with state standards.
3. Drying equipment. After washing or anti-fouling processing, the nets should be well dried and covered with a film so as not to lose their qualities during storage. The principle of operation of dryers is to dehydrate networks by removing moisture using hot and dry air.
Prospects in Russia
According to Larisa Kurganskaya, Aqua Culture Supply already has experience in supplying the Russian market. For the past 6 years, ACS has supplied equipment for both marine farms and service stations. There are also a few startups, but they are not yet working on an industrial scale. But in general, this niche in the Russian market remains open. Domestic fish farmers, given the certain conservatism of the industry, treat the new services with caution.
According to Nikolay Bragin, the head of the Karelian collective farm «Priladozhie», for the sake of economy, most fish farmers are limited to self-disinfection with chemicals in special containers and washing with a stream of water. Some of them even still use formalin for disinfection. However, if we look to the future, the demand for maintaining cage nets at a professional level will increase with the number of fish farms and the development of the industry.
«Sometimes it seems that too much money is spent on a professional service. On the other hand, the production personnel of the farm have to spend their time on non-core work. Instead of hand washing, they can handle fish, which will be much more efficient, and the service can be outsourced, » -- Inna Golfand, a partner of the APK practice for NEO Center, says. – «And, surely, the quality of specialized companies with modern equipment will be several times higher. Accordingly, the life of net cages will be much longer.»
How to organize the service
The service has prospects not only in sea fish farming, but also in lake farms. The main issue is in the competent implementation of such projects and their submission. The most appropriate way is when the service is based in the same place as the production of nets for cages.
As Nikolay Bragin noted, small farms prefer to work with regular partners, proven suppliers of cage nets. Accordingly, if such a company starts offering more services to customers, it can count on higher loyalty.
«We often encounter a situation where customers need not only the production of cage chambers, but also their subsequent maintenance, » Valery Fateev, CEO of the company’s manufacturer of net cages ICTM, said. «Now we are thinking about the prospect of creating such a center on the basis of our company in order to provide a full range of services for fish farmers and increase our competitiveness. »