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Nekkar starts ocean testing of ‘Starfish’ closed fish cage. Nekkar ASA (Nekkar) has successfully commenced ocean testing of its highly innovative ‘Starfish’ closed fish cage at Hidra outside Flekkefjord, Norway.

“Nekkar aims to develop disruptive technologies that offers high sustainability impact solutions for the aquaculture industry. Starfish is the first example of this approach. We are excited about the forthcoming ocean testing and the future opportunities this may present,” says Preben Liltved, CEO of Nekkar.

Starfish is a fully automated, closed fish cage solution that is digitally and remotely managed. At the heart of the system is a software platform for remote surveillance, data acquisition, bio analytics and production control.

The combination of disruptive technologies and automation sensor legacy will be building blocks for future SaaS offerings from Nekkar in the aquaculture sector.

Further, Starfish has been designed to reduce environmental impact and operating expenditure to a minimum. It has double protection against escapes, avoids problems with salmon lice due to water intake from deep waters below the cage, and collects up to 90 percent of biological waste. It is produced in soft materials, is recyclable and designed to optimise logistics. It also pinpoints Nekkar’s contribution to circular economy and sustainability.

Nekkar has cooperated with Lerøy Seafood ASA from the beginning of the Starfish development work, and the project is supported by Innovation Norway.

The downscaled pilot version has now been filled with seawater, and the “Starfish” will commence the ocean testing period towards summertime.

“The idea behind Starfish is to reduce opex level dramatically for the fish farming industry, while simultaneously improve fish welfare and focusing on circular economy. We look forward to verifying the technical and operational parameters of the solution, before we start preparations for testing with biomass later this year,” says Mette Harv, executive vice president of Nekkar’s Aquaculture business area.

In both Norway and parts of Canada there is a political drive towards closed caged fish farming. Authorities view closed fish cages as a potential solution to solve major environmental and sustainability challenges such as sea lice, escapes and mortality rate.

“Today there are around 4,000 open cages in Norway. Closed cages will open up additional locations. This illustrates the market potential for Starfish,” adds Mette Harv.

The foundation of Nekkar’s business is world class engineering, electrification, automation, and digitalisation competence and heritage from the drilling industry in Kristiansand which is the DNA in the company’s digital solutions business area. Nekkar aims to apply this competence as levers to develop disruptive technologies that can make high-growth industry sectors – such as aquaculture – even more sustainable, productive, and profitable.