WO2004016079A1 - Fish enclosure - Google Patents

Fish enclosure Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2004016079A1
WO2004016079A1 PCT/GB2003/003582 GB0303582W WO2004016079A1 WO 2004016079 A1 WO2004016079 A1 WO 2004016079A1 GB 0303582 W GB0303582 W GB 0303582W WO 2004016079 A1 WO2004016079 A1 WO 2004016079A1
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
enclosure
stracture
net
fish
roof
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/GB2003/003582
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Laurence John Ayling
Original Assignee
Maris Tdm Limited
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to GBGB0219081.7A priority Critical patent/GB0219081D0/en
Priority to GB0219081.7 priority
Application filed by Maris Tdm Limited filed Critical Maris Tdm Limited
Publication of WO2004016079A1 publication Critical patent/WO2004016079A1/en

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Classifications

    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A01AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING
    • A01KANIMAL HUSBANDRY; CARE OF BIRDS, FISHES, INSECTS; FISHING; REARING OR BREEDING ANIMALS, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR; NEW BREEDS OF ANIMALS
    • A01K61/00Culture of aquatic animals
    • A01K61/60Floating cultivation devices, e.g. rafts or floating fish-farms
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y02TECHNOLOGIES OR APPLICATIONS FOR MITIGATION OR ADAPTATION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02ATECHNOLOGIES FOR ADAPTATION TO CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02A40/00Adaptation technologies in agriculture, forestry, livestock or agroalimentary production
    • Y02A40/80Adaptation technologies in agriculture, forestry, livestock or agroalimentary production in fisheries management
    • Y02A40/81Aquaculture, e.g. of fish

Abstract

A new and simplified fish enclosure for fish farming that can be very large, due to: (a) being made of mesh netting held in tension by moorings and/or air or water pressure; (b) being located in the open sea, in relatively deep waters, and operated from an Offshore Platform; and (c) being able to submerge adequately to avoid being damaged in the worst of storms. An Offshore Platform with a number of such enclosures would constitute a Platform Fish Ranch and a few of these could significantly, swiftly and most economically re-stock the NWECC (North West European Continental Shelf) with juvenile fish and thereby safeguard endangered species, the future supply of food fish and the future of the European fishing industry. The initial application being cod, haddock and halibut reared using available North Sea Offshore Platforms, but applicable to most fish and most continental shelves of the world on which stand or are moored some 6,000 platforms.

Description

Fish Enclosure
The present invention relates to fish farms and to methods for farming fish.
Aquaculture has progressed with considerable success from ponds and rivers to estuaries and inshore cages. However, the largest cages in the open sea are expensive, vulnerable to storm damage and require a high density of fish in order to be economic. The resulting problems of disease and concentrated detritus is being combated with chemicals and antibiotics etc. Although such aquaculture is developing relatively fast, fish reared in captivity cannot yet adequately replace the quality, diversity and survivability of wild fish.
Ideally, the stocks of each species of fish in the wild should be maintained at a naturally sustainable level, and the fishing fleets of the world should be able to catch enough fish to satisfy demand. However, many species are now endangered and quotas have had to be imposed. Some stocks are so low that fishermen are struggling ' to catch even their quota. There is no solution as yet proposed that will quickly and surely restore the stocks of wild fish to a naturally sustainable level and secure the future livelihood of the fishing community.
We have now devised a method and equipment for enabling the rearing of fish to a size and maturity and in sufficient numbers so they can be released unfettered into the sea.
According to the invention there is provided a structure for rearing fish which comprises an enclosure attached to or otherwise associated with an oil or gas platform in the open sea, which platform is anchored or tethered or otherwise fixed or connected to the sea floor. The platform can be any kind of platform including piled, jack-up, gravity and world war two naval platforms and is preferably a platform designed for drilling, production, storage or transmission of hydrocarbons. By 'associated with' is meant that the enclosure need not be permanently attached to the platform, but is in the vicinity of the platform so that maintenance and supervision of the enclosure can take place from the platform and supplies to and control of the enclosures can take place from the platform.
The method of the invention enables the use of very large enclosures for rearing fish in the open sea, in relatively deep waters that are fully exposed to the full effects of storms, supported by offshore platforms.
Because of the size of the enclosures that can be used, the system can be used to replenish the stocks of wild fish, as well as to supplement fish supply, provide research data and prepare for marine farming. The method and equipment of the invention is referred to, hereinafter, as a "Platform Fish Ranch" or "PFR". A typical schedule of occupancy of the PFR, for Cod, Haddock and Halibut is illustrated in Table (A). The brood stock will be taken from the fishery area into that in which the juveniles are to be released and a wide sampling of brood stock should ensure that the genetic range remains diverse.
Species Hatch 1st Enclosure ά Enclosure release harvest maturity S0X50x20m 100x100x25m 50,000m3 250,000m3
Weaning Post weening % "mesh PA "mesh
Cod & @ 10°C @ 5 to 20 gms @ 20 to 100 gms @ 100 gms Haddock 8-
-2 months -2 months -2 months *4 months
@ ~2Kgs
-2 years ft
@ -4 Kgs 5- i-3 O
-354 years CD
3
5 °C @ 10 to 40 gms ! 40 to 200 gms @ 200 gms
Halibut 1*.
•~ months ~3 months ~3 months 6 months o
@ -5 Kgs o 1/1
-3 years n
@ -10 Kgs
&
~5 years
Low maximum enclosure fish densities of: 0.5 to 2 Kgs/m3 0.4 to 2 Kgs/m3 Tonnage per batch equates to: D" p n
Cod & Haddock: 25 to 100 tons 100 to 500 tons 500 tons 10,000 tons 20,000 tons
Halibut: 25 to 100 tons 100 to 500 tons 500 tons 12,500 tons 25,000 tons
Hence, to increase the biornass of Cod, on the North West Europe Continental Shelf, by 100,000 tons of mature 4Kg Cod in a particular year, requires that a Platform Fish Ranch (PFR) has released some 5,000 tons of Juvenile 100gm Cod, 3 years before (allowing for a 50% mortality). Such a PFR would release 10 batches of juveniles during the year, from 5 large enclosures, fed by 5 smaii enclosures.
To rear enough juveniles to have a significant effect on re-stocking large areas, such as the N European Continental Shelf, the size of each enclosure has to be of the order of 1000 times larger than the largest conventional cages. Secondly, to eliminate the need for medication and 'unnatural treatments' and oxygenation of the water, it will be necessary to keep the density of fish low. Thirdly, it will be essential that the equipment used is not vulnerable to storm damage and, for commercial success, the cost per ton of fish released must be far less than is currently being experienced in aquaculture with cages. Fourthly, it will be convenient to be able to tow the net enclosure slowly for hundreds or even thousands of miles in order to release the fish into a specific natural fishery location, by using two or more tugs, keeping the net enclosure in tension.
An essential element of the Platform Fish Ranch is the platform. The fish and the enclosure moored in the open sea require continuous monitoring, easy access, supplying with food regularly and protecting from storm damage. Such enclosures will contain a considerable asset value of fish and will need local policing and protecting. The provision of a vessel moored permanently on location, in all weathers would be very expensive if not impractical. The existence, therefore, of many platforms in the North Sea and on other continental shelves of the world, provides a valuable opportunity and an economic solution.
The new mesh net enclosure is held in shape by tension, unlike conventional fish cages, which rely on rigid compression members or struts to keep their shape. The size of the new mesh net enclosure can be less than 2,500 cubic metres but is preferably very much larger, with useful sizes ranging from 25,000 cubic metres to 1 million cubic metres, or more.
The shape of the mesh net enclosure is not critical and, although the open top, roof, wall, floor or partition is preferably rectangular, the shape can be regular, irregular, oval, or polygonal, etc. If the enclosure is approximately square it can have a plan area of preferably at least 25 meters by 25 meters and it can have an average depth from the top of the enclosure to the bottom when in position at sea of preferably at least 10 metres, e.g. 100 metres by 100 metres by 20 metres, which is about 100 times larger than the largest Russian submersible cage, (SADCO), or 200 metres by 200 metres by 25 metres amounting to 1 million cubic metres, or larger.
The sheer size required necessitates a structure in tension, utilising weight, buoyancy, mooring and fluid dynamic forces to maintain its shape.
Preferably the enclosure consists of nets with preferably a finer mesh net mounted on a coarser net mesh or lattice. This enables the containment of the young fry or fingerlings, and the coarser mesh net or lattice can transmit and spread the load of the moorings. A net enclosure of finer mesh to contain young juveniles may be located within, or adjacent to, a net enclosure of coarser mesh so that they may be easily reared and transferred from one enclosure to another.
The enclosure preferably has a roof structure to prevent the fish from escaping over the top of the enclosure when the enclosure becomes submerged.
In order to avoid damage by storms, which can occur in open sea with very high waves, preferably there are submerging means which enable the enclosure to be lowered beneath the sea surface and raised up again. The roof structure will prevent the escape of the fish fry or fingerlings etc. and prevent the ingress of predators.
The height or depth at which the roof of the net enclosure is located can be altered remotely in order to allow the fish to access the sea surface in reasonable weather but, in rough seas, avoid damage to the enclosure by sinking the roof adequately below the surface. The designs of the equipment enable the net enclosure to be submerged to escape storm damage and they can have a fixed mooring system, which remains permanently on the surface or can submerge entirely and have a roof design which avoids impact with the sea surface when in the surface mode. The mooring design caters for the high drag forces of the large fine mesh 'sail areas', with algal growth, drifting seaweed and significant tidal currents.
The enclosure can be moored or tethered to the sea floor using conventional technology for the moorings and anchors so that the enclosures keep their shape.
Single point mooring of the enclosure is possible, provided there is a means of keeping the enclosure in tension, which means can be the pressurisation of members of the roof or enclosure with air or water to act as struts, or the over-pressure of air trapped beneath an impervious roof, or over-pressure of water within the net enclosure provided by continuous pumping of water into the enclosure. The advantages of the single point mooring is that it can weathervane, roam widely to spread detritus, and be directional in design to reduce drag forces. Submergence in bad weather would be achieved through variable buoyancy controlled from or via the platform.
The choice of platform will depend on the fish and the conditions and not all platforms are suitably located for fish ranching. As well as oil or gas production platforms any offshore platform can be used, but disused oil and gas platforms are most suitable. The initial preferences will be where the tidal flow is not excessive, where the preferred fish species naturally choose to hatch and grow, where the sea is shallow enough to economise on moorings but deep enough to submerge to escape from storms and where the platform is already shut in and possibly redundant.
The space required on the platform for the fish ranch can be used for fish food, winches, and a control centre for the ranch supervisors and storage for a small seagoing boat and ROVs and/or AUNs with a launching system. If the platform is disused and stripped of most oil and gas production equipment, there may also be space for a fish hatchery and weaning tanks.
The net enclosure can be fabricated, transported and deployed using state-of-the-art fishing net deployment and recovery methods. The introduction of the young fish and release of the older fish will be based on experience of the Fishing Industry. However these enclosures will be larger than the largest fishing nets and, unlike most fishing nets, must stay 'open' without the assistance of moving water. The design of the moorings is based on offshore experience within the Oil and Gas industry.
In use, the enclosures are set up and fish fry released into the enclosure. The fish fry can be produced in fish hatcheries on shore as in conventional fish farming or on the platform if there is space. When they have grown to juvenile size, e.g. after about three to twelve months depending on the species, the juveniles may be released into the open sea; a small proportion of juveniles may be retained in an enclosure of coarser mesh for a further 1 to 2 years for harvesting.
It is a feature of the invention that the design allows individual enclosures to be replaced easily and, without affecting or dismantling the mooring array, the design ensures that the enclosure or enclosures substantially do not have to take any of the mooring forces and the forces on the net enclosures are limited to sufficient tensions to keep their shape in moderate sea currents.
The enclosure can be a sound enclosure which generates walls of low frequency sound and is formed by installing walls of low frequency sound that cause fish to feel pain if they approach too close. The sound appears to be focussed in the plane of the wall, with the power, amplitude, or 'loudness', attenuating fast with increasing distance away from the wall, on either side. The initial Sound Enclosure is designed to enclose a space of up to 200m x 200m x 100m (about 2000 times larger than the largest SADCO), or more; and it is totally unaffected by ocean storms. Sound walls will enable various fish species and sizes and predators to be segregated and the ocean to be farmed in future in a more constructive and sustainable way. There is no limit to the size of Sound Enclosures and they could be envisaged in sizes of several square kilometres in plan area. The depth of water is limited by the ability of the emitter design to focus the sound to avoid it spreading excessively across the wall width before reaching the sea surface.
Two fundamentally basic aspects are important in the Sound Wall design; firstly that the frequency or family of frequencies causes pain to the particular species and size of fish that are to be contained or repelled, without causing permanent harm, and, secondly, that the frequencies are so chosen and generated that they interfere and cancel out quickly in the direction perpendicularly away from the wall and so produce a steep gradient of noise and pain that enable the fish to easily appreciate which is 'the wrong direction'.
The various suitable frequencies will be those that target the natural frequencies of those organs that the fish can feel, such as the swim bladder. These vary with species and size of fish but a suitable range and mix of frequencies can be established, as has been found in the prior art of 'seal scarers', etc.
Transponders can be hung in a buoyant wall of coarse netting so that there is an array of transponders at regular intervals, both horizontally and vertically, with a power output such that any two adjacent transponders can fail without creating a gap through which fish can escape. The advantages of such a wall is that the power attenuates relatively fast with distance from the wall and the course net serves to exclude predators. However it is an expensive solution and vulnerable to storm damage near the surface.
The preferred design is to firmly 'plant' a line of transponders in the sea floor and focus the sound output into the plane of the wall with minimum loss away from the wall as the sound rises to the sea surface. The transponders would be powered by different power cable 'ringmains' to minimise the probability of any two adjacent transponders failing. At the corners of the enclosure the transponders would continue for a short distance in each wall so as to maintain the 'noise' volume right up to the sea surface.
The intended frequencies, being those that cause sympathetic vibrations that 'hurt' but don't harm young juveniles, are a fairly low frequency, compared with sound that is audible to humans. These frequencies are less 'directional' than higher frequencies, but should be adequately directional to form a wall when installed in a row, particularly for a large sound enclosure in fairly shallow water.
The width of the sound wall can be significantly reduced by placing two sound emitters at each emitting location, half a wavelength apart, so that the two sounds are in phase when 'heard' within the plane of the wall but out of phase with each other in the direction perpendicular to the wall. The design of emitters that effectively generates sound with such precision is to be researched but the preferred solution will be an electric discharge to generate enough energy in a small enough space with millimetre precision.
Fig. 27 shows the corner between two sound walls, at which the sound goes beyond the corner and one or more emitters have to be installed beyond the corner, outside the sound enclosure, to maintain the strength of the sound up to the surface of the sea.
The emitters require redundancy of electrical power supply and emitting capability so that at least two adjacent emitters, on different supplies, could fail without opening up a hole in the wall. Two or more separate walls could be created close to each other to provide further redundancy and security. The outer wall, or walls, can be operated at lower frequencies to deter predators and preferably the frequencies or mix of frequencies can be fairly easily adjusted or at least switched from one frequency to another. Additionally the power output could be adjustable so that the fish can be herded away from a side, while adjustments or openings or maintenance are carried out to individual emitters.
Additionally, in order to condition or educate new recruits more efficiently, it will be desirable to emit light or light flashes in the plane of the wall so that the fish can associate pain with the location of the light flashes and so learn faster to see and avoid the wall before feeling pain.
The acoustic system can also be used to signal to the fish. Sound and light can be used to associate with the arrival of fish food, so that the food is consumed relatively quickly before the sea currents or tidal flow have carried it beyond the walls of the sound enclosure.
By locating sound enclosures next to each other and by opening and closing walls and varying the sound level or amplitude, the fish can be corralled and herded from one enclosure to another and several adjacent enclosures can contain juveniles of different ages.
Because of the size potential of sound enclosures, very large stocks of fish can be envisaged. Indeed the larger the enclosure the easier it is to use sound walls since it is the attenuation of the sound at right angles to the wall, which will take up significant space. The solution to effective corralling is the gradient of the attenuation with increasing distance from the wall; such that, even a young juvenile can tell in which direction it needs to swim to lessen the pain.
A further advantage of the large sound enclosure is that it can be used to section off part of a natural fishery area so that the requirement for artificial feeding is greatly reduced and as such even the platform can be omitted, provided a reliable power source or supply is installed at the seabed and an automatic feeder supplements the natural food supply.
There are already 30 'non-operating' (abandoned or shut-in) platforms on the N.W. Europe Continental Shelf (NWECS) in water depths of 50 to 150m (25 piled, 3 gravity, 1 TLP & 1 Jack-up).
Additionally there are now 164 'operating' platforms on the NWECS, in water depths of 50 to >350m, from which fish ranching could also be managed.
When Platform Fish Ranching becomes proven, there are over 8,000 offshore platforms on the continental shelves of the world many, or most of which could be used to manage net enclosure and/or sound enclosure fish ranching.
The invention is illustrated in the accompanying drawings in which are described four basic designs of net enclosure all of which submerge the net enclosure to escape storm damage. One has a fixed mooring system, which remains permanently on the surface and the other three submerge entirely but have different roof designs to avoid impact with the sea surface when in the surface mode.
In the drawings
Fig. 1 shows different types of net enclosures.
Figs. 2 and 3, shows a design of a buoy mooring system. Figs. 4 and 5, show another design of a buoy mooring.
Figs. 6 to 10 show the sequence of installing the moorings. Figs. 11 to 16 show net enclosures that are fixed to the seabed. Figs. 17 to 19 show floating net enclosures. Figs. 20 to 22 show the major buoy mooring concepts. Fig. 23 shows a design of fish feeder frame. Fig. 24 shows a method of accessing the interior of a net enclosure. Fig. 25 shows the operation of a robot cleaner. Fig. 26 shows the location of the fish feeders. Fig. 27 explains the mooring design of figs. 6 to 10. Fig. 28 illustrates the Sound Enclosure concept.
Referring to Fig. 1 there are three different designs of net enclosure (1) with different roof structures, moored close to a platform (2) and in which mooring cables (3) and flexible hoses (4) connect the net enclosures (1) to the platform (2). At least two of the mooring cables (3) for each net enclosure (1) pass to the platform (2) so that their lengths can be adjusted from the platform (2) and hence facilitate the installation of buoys (5) and net enclosures (1) and also enable the net enclosure (1) to be pulled well below sea level to survive a storm by means of winches etc. acting on the mooring cables attached to the enclosures.
The net enclosure (1) can be easily removed by detaching it from the buoys (5) and the buoys will remain in place due to their mooring cables (6). Each buoy (5) or net enclosure (1) has a warning beacon, being at least a navigation light and/or radar reflector and/or sound warning system (7).
Referring to Figs. 2 and 3, these show a design of a buoy mooring system (11) that remains permanently on the surface, consisting of 3 or more buoys (5), (5 or 6 buoys may be optimum). The net enclosure (1) is installed by attaching the lower corners to the halyards (12) above water and then lowering them below water. The upper corners are then attached to the halyards (12), which are then pulled in and tensioned, so that the main mooring tension is transferred from the base cables (13) to the stretched roof (14) of the enclosure (1) to keep it above water in relatively calm weather. When the weather deteriorates and before the waves (15) become high enough to overlap with the roof (14), the halyards (12) lower the enclosure by some 15m so that the roof (14) is about 10m below the surface. The halyards (12) can lower the enclosure (1) by a further 20m, if necessary, to avoid up to 100ft waves (16) or more. The actuation of the halyards (12) can be by electric, hydraulic, pneumatic or mechanical means and can be remotely powered and or controlled from the platform (2).
The benefits of this design are that there need not be any running moorings to the platform and the mooring tension is not increased when submerging the net enclosure. The high tension in the net enclosure roof (14), necessary in the surface mode, is transferred to the top cable (17) in the submerged mode and this allows the net enclosure roof (14) to be more compliant and flexible when riding out storms. Lastly, the warning beacons (7) remain effective throughout a storm.
Referring to Figs. 4 and 5, these show the design of a buoy mooring (11), consisting of 3 or more buoys, (4 may be optimum), that submerges in bad weather along with the net enclosure (1).
When the weather deteriorates and before the waves (15) reach the roof (14) of the enclosure (1), the whole net enclosure (1), buoys (5) and mooring system (11) are lowered below sea level by pulling in on at least all but two of the moorings (18) using a winch on the platform (2). The net enclosure (1) can be lowered to 30 m below sea level to avoid the worst storm and a 30m wave (16).
Most of the tension in the roof (14), necessary in the surface mode, is transferred to the base cable (13) in the submerged mode, thus allowing the roof (14) to be more compliant beneath a storm. The warning beacons (7) remain effective until the enclosure is 15 m below sea level, thus protecting the enclosure from any vessels straying into the area in bad weather. If the weather is more severe, the whole assembly is lowered by a further 15 m to provide the same clearance from shipping for the navigation lights and radar reflectors, themselves.
The benefits of this design are that the buoys (5) can be very much shorter and lighter and there are no mechanical or moving parts on the net enclosure (1) and buoy mooring assembly (11). Also there are no parts left exposed to bad weather.
Referring to Figs. 6 to 10, these show the sequence of installing the moorings, buoys and net enclosure. After the seabed anchoring points have been established (by suction or, preferably, by drilling or piling), the running moorings (18) from the platform, can be let fully out and the floating buoys (5) can be attached by base cables (13), above water as shown in Fig. 6. In Fig. 7 the runmng mooring lines (18) are shortened to stretch the base cables (13) to ensure their correct installation. In Fig. 8, by further pulling in on the running moorings (18), the base cables (13) can be pulled under water, sufficiently to allow the installation vessel to pass over them. In Fig. 9 the vessel can launch the net enclosure (1), attach the lower comers to the buoys (5) above water, using the marker buoys (19) and the upper comers to the top of the buoys (5).
In Fig. 10, the cables attaching the net enclosure (1) to the buoys (5) are pulled in, working from the installation vessel, to pull the buoys (5) into the vertical. The running moorings (18) are then pulled in, from the platform, to hold the buoys (5) down and increase the tension in the roof cables (14) to hold the roof of the net enclosure (1) above water.
Further shortening of the running moorings (18) will pull the whole assembly of buoys (5) and net enclosure (1) under water. By reversing the operation, the net enclosure can be easily disconnected, weather permitting, above water, removed and replaced, leaving the buoy mooring system in place. This will be necessary for maintaining the net enclosure about once or twice a year.
Referring to Figs. 11 to 16, these show net enclosures that are fixed to the seabed:
Fig. 11 shows the basic concept of a net enclosure surrounding the platform. The advantage is that the net enclosure is supported from the platform deck (20) and access from the platform to the inside of the net enclosure is easy. The net enclosure is however vulnerable to storm damage.
Fig.12 shows the net enclosure terminating with a roof (21) well below the storm zone. This assists in surviving storms but the fish are permanently cut off from the surface and access to the structure for inspection and maintenance would be difficult.
Fig.13 shows the net enclosure supported by the platform deck (20) but able to be lowered in bad weather. On many platforms the deck cantilevers out sufficiently to ensure that the lowered and loose net enclosure would not come into contact with, and be damaged by, the platform jacket (22) in a storm.
Fig. 14 shows a 'dome' type of net enclosure, of which the entire roof (23) is fabricated from a membrane as used in inflatable indoor tennis courts or in balloons and blimps, with a large valve (24) to allow rapid deflation. The roof buoyancy can be partly counterbalanced by chains (25) so that the depth of submergence is inversely proportional to the roof buoyancy. The maximum submergence can be designed to be when all four chains are entirely on the seabed. Other aspects of the 'dome design' are discussed under Fig. 19. Fig. 15 shows a 'tent' type of net enclosure, in which the edge of the roof (26) is fabricated from an inflatable tube, of the type used in inflatable military boats and zodiacs, which maintains the shape but is fairly compliant in this large scale. The centre of the roof is supported by one or more floats (27), which can be deflated, and/or pulled down by a cable (28) from a platform winch.
Fig. 16 shows a 'waffle' type of net enclosure, in which the roof is made up of several relatively thin (lm or less in diameter) tubes that facilitate a roof design that could be repeated and/or extended to cover a very large area, with sections of mesh (29) between the tubes that can pass air (or water if submerged).
Wherever significant sea currents and/or tidal flows exist, the large 'sail area' of the fine mesh walls will produce a large drag force and, with the addition of algal growth and trapped seaweed, these forces will be very high. In such circumstances, the net enclosures shown in Figs. 14 and 15 will require moorings like those shown in Fig. 16 (30). Chains or weights may be added to allow the net enclosure to rise and fall with the tide.
Additionally, the attaching of the net enclosure to the seabed, however, will not be simple and the detritus will accumulate in a concentrated area.
Referring to Figs. 17 to 19, these show moorings which allow the floating net enclosures to roam laterally within a reasonable envelope which can be extended with wider spread moorings. By floating well above the seabed the detritus is carried laterally by sea currents and tidal flow and spread over a wider area. Also, these designs of net enclosure are simpler and easier to install or replace.
Fig. 17 shows the 'tensioned' roof net enclosure, in which the roof is kept above sea level by the tension in the roof cables (14), which necessitate large buoys (5) and high mooring loads. These loads are increased further on submerging or, alternatively, the buoys can be ballasted (displacing air with water), and refilled with compressed air for re-surfacing. Fixed buoyancy, such as rigid foam, at the top of the buoy and weighting, such as pig iron, at the base can assist in increasing stability. The addition of large discs (32) at the base of the buoys (5) can assist in dampening the effect of swells, or heave, to reduce relative motion between each buoy and the comer of the net enclosure that it is moored to.
Fig. 18 shows a combination of lower tension force and 'tent' type structure. As with all of the designs it is important to ensure that the roof cannot 'slap' the surface of the water and harm the fish, which is likely when swells affect the buoys out of phase. Also, only the roof is tethered, leaving the base free to tilt away from sea currents and reduce the drag. The moorings are simpler and the mooring force reduced. The moorings, themselves, may be tethered (33) in order to restrain them while enclosures are disconnected and/or replaced.
Fig. 19 shows a preferred design of net enclosure. The 'Dome' design of roof, is simple and uses membrane materials that are well proven in other applications. The air supply from the platform can be heated or cooled. The air can be fast vented from one or more vents (24) in the roof of the dome. Only the roof is moored so that the walls (34) can tilt away from a strong tidal flow and avoid the drag becoming excessive (however much the wall is covered in algal growth or seaweed). The least mooring forces of the examples shown need only consist "of marker buoys (35) and retaining cables (33) to allow the net enclosure to be easily detached and replaced. The preferred design shown in Fig. 19 requires the least mooring forces of the examples shown and does not increase with submergence as this is achieved by venting air; the roof (23) cannot collapse too far as the peak of the roof contains one or more permanent buoyancy aids (25); adjusting the moorings from the platform can move the net enclosure over a significant area to spread detritus; constant tension winches or compensators can ensure that the net enclosure rises and falls with the tide. Any tendency to tilt due to a strong tidal flow can be compensated by shortening the downstream moorings and by incorporating fixed or variable buoyancy around the edge of the roof (23).
Referring to Fig. 20 this shows the two elevations of the mooring required to connect with both the roof and the base of the net enclosure, whereby the mooring force (M) intersects with the addition (F) of the two net enclosure forces (FI and F2) and the mooring cable forces between the buoys (F3), very close to the centre of buoyancy (b) of the buoy. On submergence, stability relies almost entirely on the buoy being a double buoy, kept upright by the cables between the buoys.
Referring to Fig. 21 this shows the two elevations of the mooring required if the net enclosure is not tethered at the base. A mooring failure in the cases shown in Figs. 20 or 21 would upset the geometry considerably and is the main reason, apart from the high tensions, for only using a tensioned roof in relatively small net enclosures.
Referring to Fig. 22 this shows the simplicity achieved by having the net enclosure roof being self supported, for example by air pressure. Only a small marker buoy is required to support each mooring cable while the net enclosure is being installed or replaced. The mooring system is simple and stable, even when submerged. The mooring forces, although less than in the other designs, are still considerable because of the large size of the enclosure, so the transition between the mooring cable and the net enclosure will pass through a reinforced section (36) to spread the load. At this location, within the splash zone when in the surface mode, the membrane (37) will be a thicker version of the dome membrane (38) and of the material typically chosen for inflatable boats or hovercraft skirts. This membrane (37) can preferably incorporate an amount of fixed buoyancy to assist in supporting the roof weight so that there is no tendency for the roof to become unstable, with slack moorings, strong tidal flow or when submerged. Fig. 23 shows an appropriate design of fish feeder frame (40), which can retain buoyant food inside a net enclosure, where very much more food has to be spread over a larger area than is common in fish cage aquaculture, without being swept away by the current. This design ensures that the feeder can still contain a free air / water interface (41), even after the net enclosure has submerged, provided the air pressure is increased as the feeder sinks down. Since, in this design, the excess air can escape under the floats (42), it will be fairly easy to maintain the air / water level (41) in the feeding frame.
Fig. 24 shows a method of accessing the interior of the 'dome' net enclosure, through a simple air lock (50) using zippable or "Nelcro" (RTM) sealed doors (51), with sufficient buoyancy in the structure to keep it erected while a small boat (52) enters the airlock with the outer door open. The materials indicated are balloon or blimp material (53), reinforced inflatable boat or hovercraft skirt material (54) for the splash zone and Fishing Net (55) for the walls and floor of the net enclosure.
Fig. 25 shows the operation of a robot cleaner of the type conventionally used now offshore and very much easier to use on such a net enclosure, in the absence of any structural struts both inside and outside.
Fig. 26 shows the location of the fish feeders previously shown in Fig. 23 and moored between the main net enclosure mooring points. Provided the roof is slightly buoyant, the feeders will remain upright and working when submerged.
Fig. 27 explains the mooring design of Figs. 6 to 10, more clearly, whereby the mooring array (70) in Fig. 27 of buoys (71) and mooring cables (72) can remain in place while an enclosure or enclosures (73) (Fig. 27a) can be individually removed or replaced by a vessel or vessels, such as a fishing boat (74) (Fig. 27b). A benefit of the design is that the mooring forces are not transmitted to the net enclosures and the net enclosures only require sufficient tension to keep their shape. Narious sized enclosures are shown, the smaller enclosures (75) generally being of smaller mesh as suited to smaller and younger fish and the larger enclosures (76) generally being of coarser mesh for larger and older fish. The mooring cables (72) pull the mooring array (70) and enclosures (73) below sea level whenever required; for example, to avoid damage to the installation or the fish during rough seas.
Fig. 28 illustrates, the Sound Enclosure Concept, in which the platform is in, or near, an enclosure (60) formed of walls of sound produced by lines of sound emitters (61) fixed to the seabed. The bottom of the sound walls is indicated by the dotted lines (62) along the seabed and the top of the sound walls is indicated by the dotted lines (63) at the surface of the sea. The sound walls extend for a short distance beyond the comer of the Sound Enclosure but are omitted in the illustration to try and improve clarity.

Claims

Claims
1. A structure for raising fish in the open sea which comprises an open enclosure in the sea which enclosure is attached to or associated with an oil or gas platform which platform is tethered or anchored or otherwise fixed to the sea floor.
2. A structure for raising fish in the open sea which comprises an open enclosure, of which the shape is maintained by holding the enclosure substantially in tension and which is attached to or associated with a floating or fixed offshore platform in the open sea.
3. A structure as claimed in claim 1 or 2 in which the volume of the enclosure is preferably at least 2,500 cubic metres.
4. A structure as claimed in claim 1 or 2 in which the volume of the enclosure is between 25,000 cubic metres and 1,000,000 cubic metres.
5. A structure as claimed in any one of the preceding claims in which structure has an open top.
6. A structure as claimed in any one of the preceding claims in which the depth of the enclosure at sea when in position is at least 10 metres from the top of the enclosure to the bottom of the enclosure.
7. A structure as claimed in any one of the preceding claims in which the enclosure comprises nets.
8. A stracture as claimed in any one of the preceding claims in which the stracture is attached to the platform by means of one or more mooring cables.
9. A stracture as claimed in any one of the preceding claims in which the platform is connected to the net enclosure by one or more of flexible hoses conveying food, fish, air, and/or water and cables carrying electric, hydraulic, pneumatic or mechanical power, instrument, CCTN and control signals, to enable the net enclosure to be monitored and operated from or via the platform.
10. A structure as claimed in any one of claims 7 to 9 in which the netting is comprised of a finer mesh net mounted on a coarser mesh net or lattice to transmit and spread mooring loads. '
11. A stracture as claimed in any one of claims 7 to 10 in which a finer mesh net enclosure is located within a coarser mesh net enclosure to facilitate the release of fish from the finer mesh net enclosure to the coarser mesh net enclosure.
12. A stracture as claimed in any one of the preceding claims in which there are submerging means which enables the enclosure to be lowered beneath the sea surface and raised up again.
13. A structure as claimed in claim 12 in which the submerging means comprises a plurality of moorings attached to the enclosure and is tethered or anchored beneath the surface of the sea and there being a shortening means which can shorten the moorings and thereby pull the net beneath the water.
14. A stracture as claimed in any one of the preceding claims in which the enclosure has a roof structure.
15. A structure as claimed in claim 14 in which the submerging means comprises a means to release air trapped beneath or within the roof of the net so the net can then be submerged under its own weight or by weights or chains on the moorings or by being pulled down by shortening the moorings or by a combination thereof.
16. A structure as claimed in any one of claims 7 to 15 in which there are buoys attached to the net structure.
17. A stracture as claimed in claim 16 in which the buoys have a section above the sea surface and the roof structure is attached to the buoys.
18. A stracture as claimed in claim 17 in which the buoys have a warning means to warn marine users of the installation, typically with lights, radar reflectors and/or sound.
19. A stracture as claimed in any one of claims 16 to 18 in which there are submerging means which enables the enclosure to be lowered beneath the sea surface and raised up again which submerging means comprises a means for reducing the buoyancy of the buoys and controlling the depth of the submerged net with weights and/or chains on moorings.
20. A stracture as claimed in any one of the preceding claims in which the enclosure has a roof stracture and in which the roof structure is a mesh net supported above the water by roof cables held in tension between buoys held apart by moorings.
21. A structure as claimed in any one of the preceding claims in which the enclosure has a roof stracture and in which the roof structure comprises a membrane and there are means for air to be pumped under the roof stracture.
22. A stracture as claimed in the preceding claims in which the enclosure has a roof stracture and in which the roof structure is impervious to air and traps air and into which there are means to introduce air such that a dome of air formed thereby which is at above atmospheric pressure and supports the roof above the water, with the edges of the roof structure are substantially below water level, supporting the net enclosure.
23. A structure as claimed in claim 14 or 15 or in any one of claims 20 to 22 in which the roof is in the form of an inflatable membrane with buoyancy balancing weights.
24. A stracture as claimed in claim 14 or 15 or in any one of claims 20 to 22 in which the edge of the roof is fabricated from an inflatable tube and the centre of the roof is supported by one or more floats which can be deflated and/or pulled down by a cable from a winch mounted on the platform.
25. A stracture as claimed in claim 14 or 15 or in any one of claims 20 to 22 in which the roof is in the form of a grid of tubes having a net mesh in the spaces between the tubes.
26. A stracture as claimed in claim 14 or 15 or in any one of claims 20 to 25 in which the height or depth of the roof relative to the water surface can be altered by remote control.
27. A stracture as claimed in claim 14 or 15 or in any one of claims 20 to 26 in which the roof is positioned so as to avoid impact with the sea surface when the stracture is on the surface.
28. A stracture as claimed in claim 14 or 15 or in any one of claims 20 to 27 which has a reinforced membrane around the edge of the roof to which reinforced membrane the moorings or mooring cables or mooring buoys are attached and which cables or buoys serve to transmit and spread the significant mooring loads to the net enclosure and/or to the roof.
29. A structure as in claims 14 or 15 in which the roof is as claimed in any one of claims 21 to 28 and incorporates an amount of fixed or variable buoyancy preferably around its edge to support or assist in supporting the enclosure and ensure its stability.
30. A stracture as claimed in any one of the preceding claims which has a fixed mooring system which system remains permanently on the surface.
31. A stracture as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 19 which has a fixed mooring system which can submerge entirely.
32. A structure as claimed in any one of the preceding claims which comprises a net stracture in which the net enclosure is supported loosely from its upper comers and the side of the net enclosure facing the prevailing water current or tidal flow is free to tilt away from the flow and thereby reduce the effective sail area and reduce the drag force passed onto the moorings.
33. A structure as claimed in any one of the preceding claims which has moorings which are able to remain substantially on location or in position, while the net enclosure is disconnected or absent.
34. A structure as claimed in any one of the preceding claims in which the platform has storage means for fish food and has winches and a control centre.
35. A structure as claimed in any one of the preceding claims in which the net enclosure can be moved laterally by adjusting the moorings locally or remotely from elsewhere but preferably from the platform.
36. A structure as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, in which there are means to release food for the fish within the net enclosure either locally or remotely.
37. A structure as claimed in claim 36 in which the means to release food for the fish within the net enclosure is on the platform and the food may be pumped or otherwise supplied from the platform.
38. A structure as claimed in claim 35 in which the means to release food for the fish within the net enclosure comprises a means to dispense the food to the fish by passing it into a floating feeding frame, such that the food is buoyant and floats at the air/water interface and such interface is contained within substantially vertical surfaces of a feeding frame that calms the water surface and substantially prevents the food from being carried away in water currents and/or tidal flow.
39. A structure as claimed in any of the preceding claims other than claims 2, 13 and 20, which is moored with a single point mooring and is allowed to weathervane.
40. A structure as claimed in any one of claims 15 or 22 to 29 in which there are means to enable access to be gained for a small boat, remotely operated vehicle or autonomous underwater vehicle, without losing excessive air, by using a floating air lock, which can be sealed by a low pressure closing system at each end or on either side of the air lock.
41. A stracture as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, which incorporates a tethered or autonomous machine which is able to travel over the surface of the net enclosure both inside and/or outside to clean the mesh net of algal growth and/or trapped seaweed, to facilitate the passage of water and the release of detritus.
42. A stracture as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 5 in which the enclosure is a sound enclosure which is formed by installing walls of low frequency sound.
43. A stracture as claimed in claim 42 in which the sound appears to be focussed in the plane of the wall, with the power, amplitude, or 'loudness', attenuating fast with increasing distance away from the wall, on either side.
44. A structure as claimed in claim 42 or 43 in which the enclosed space is up to 200m x 200m x 100m or more.
45. A stracture as claimed in any one of claims 42 to 44 in which the sound wall is generated by transponders hung in a buoyant wall of netting so that there is an array of transponders at intervals, both horizontally and vertically, with a power output such that any two adjacent transponders can fail without creating a gap through which fish can escape.
46. A stracture as claimed in any one of claims 42 to 45 in which the sound wall is generated by transponders in the sea floor which focus the sound output into the plane of the wall.
47. A stracture as claimed in claim 46 in which the stracture is substantially square, rectangular or polygonal and in which the transponders are in a line and the line of transponders continues for a short distance beyond the length of each wall.
48. A stracture as claimed in any one of claims 42 to 47 in which there are two sound emitters at each emitting location, half a wavelength apart, so that the two sounds are in phase when 'heard' within the plane of the wall but out of phase with each other in the direction perpendicular to the wall.
49. A stracture as claimed in any one of claims 42 to 48 in which there are circuit means which enable at least two adjacent emitters to fail without opening up a hole in the wall.
50. A structure as claimed in any one of claims 42 to 49 in which there are inner walls and outer walls and in which the outer wall, or walls, can be operated at different frequencies or mixture of frequencies.
> 51. A structure as claimed in any one of claims 42 to 50 in which there are lights able to emit continuous or flashes of light or ultra violet light in the plane of the wall.
52. A method of raising fish in which young juvenile fish are grown inside a structure as claimed in any one of the preceding claims.
53. A method as claimed in claim 52 in which young juvenile fish are grown up to at least an age at which their chances of survival in the open sea are substantial and at which time they are released to contribute to the stocking of the open sea.
54. A method as claimed in claim 52 in which young juvenile fish are placed within a net enclosure as soon as they are able to survive in the particular local sea environment and are grown up to at least an age at which they can be harvested for selling within the fishing industry.
55. A method as claimed in claim 52 in which young juvenile fish are placed within a net enclosure as soon as they are able to survive in the particular local sea environment and are grown up to maturity to provide fish for breeding and for research.
56. A method as claimed in any one of claims 52 to 55 in which predators are excluded or repelled.
57. A stracture as is claimed in any of the claims 1 to 41 that is designed to be detached from its moorings and kept in tension by tugs while being towed to a suitable fishery location distant from the platform.
58. A stracture as in any of the claims 42 to 51, in which a large sound enclosure is installed on a significant part of a natural fishery location so that the requirement for artificial feeding is greatly reduced.
59. A stracture as in any of the claims 42 to 51 and claim 58, in which a subsea power supply or source is provided with an automatic feeder to supplement the natural food supply and no platform is required within the immediate vicinity.
60. A stracture as in any of the above claims, in which the platform is replaced by remotely controlled means of submerging net enclosures and or powering the sound emitters and/or warning beacons and/or automatic fish feeders and/or pumping water and/or compressing air and/or monitoring the fish and the enclosure.
PCT/GB2003/003582 2002-08-16 2003-08-18 Fish enclosure WO2004016079A1 (en)

Priority Applications (2)

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GBGB0219081.7A GB0219081D0 (en) 2002-08-16 2002-08-16 Fish enclosure
GB0219081.7 2002-08-16

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AU2003260721A AU2003260721A1 (en) 2002-08-16 2003-08-18 Fish enclosure
EP03787904A EP1528855A1 (en) 2002-08-16 2003-08-18 Fish enclosure

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GB2437642A (en) * 2006-04-25 2007-10-31 Maris Fish Ranches Ltd Net array for fish farming
CN103168730A (en) * 2013-03-19 2013-06-26 大连海洋大学 Pacific codfish artificial hatching method
WO2015055258A1 (en) * 2013-10-18 2015-04-23 Statoil Petroleum As Aqua farming
CN105494192A (en) * 2015-12-11 2016-04-20 江苏科技大学 Mariculture device with net cage added to jacket fan base
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WO2018059674A1 (en) * 2016-09-28 2018-04-05 Helgi Larsen A method for farming fish and an artificial barrier used for the method
WO2018190725A1 (en) * 2017-04-10 2018-10-18 Roxel Aqua As Jackup rig for offshore fish farming
NO20171878A1 (en) * 2017-11-21 2019-05-22 Unitec Offshore As Thanks to fish farming facilities
GB2574777A (en) * 2017-04-10 2019-12-18 Roxel Aqua As Jackup rig for offshore fish farming

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WO2007125363A1 (en) * 2006-04-25 2007-11-08 Maris Fish Ranches Limited Fish enclosure
GB2437642A (en) * 2006-04-25 2007-10-31 Maris Fish Ranches Ltd Net array for fish farming
CN103168730A (en) * 2013-03-19 2013-06-26 大连海洋大学 Pacific codfish artificial hatching method
WO2015055258A1 (en) * 2013-10-18 2015-04-23 Statoil Petroleum As Aqua farming
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WO2016134128A1 (en) * 2015-02-19 2016-08-25 Forever Oceans Corporaton Automated aquaculture harvesting system
CN105494192A (en) * 2015-12-11 2016-04-20 江苏科技大学 Mariculture device with net cage added to jacket fan base
WO2018059674A1 (en) * 2016-09-28 2018-04-05 Helgi Larsen A method for farming fish and an artificial barrier used for the method
GB2574777A (en) * 2017-04-10 2019-12-18 Roxel Aqua As Jackup rig for offshore fish farming
WO2018190725A1 (en) * 2017-04-10 2018-10-18 Roxel Aqua As Jackup rig for offshore fish farming
NO20171878A1 (en) * 2017-11-21 2019-05-22 Unitec Offshore As Thanks to fish farming facilities
WO2019103618A1 (en) * 2017-11-21 2019-05-31 Unitech Offshore As Roof cover for fish farm
NO344269B1 (en) * 2017-11-21 2019-10-21 Unitec Offshore As Roof to fish farm
US11259507B2 (en) 2017-11-21 2022-03-01 Unitech Offshore As Roof cover for fish farm

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