- Tasty Seafood
- About us
- Key brands
“It is not unusual for a single operator to handle 70-80 tonnes of feed per day. That’s a lot of money’s worth and a big responsibility”, says Ole Groven Eskerod, the head of Lerøy Midt’s growth centres.
He manages the operators on the island of Hitra and in Kristiansund, who in total provide feed to between 160 and 180 cages per day.
Cages have several cameras that record what is happening night and day, and live images are transmitted to the growth centres, where operators can at all times control the cameras and see detailed information from the farm, both in the cages and the surrounding area. Each operator has 6 separate 38-inch screens that they have to keep an eye on. Often individual screens are split into several windows as you get towards the end of the production cycle. So there is a lot of information to keep track of.
“All of our information comes from the image taken by the camera. If you are providing feed to eight cages, you generally have eight underwater cameras on your screens, as well as images of the surfaces of the same cages”, says Ole.
By observing what happens both above and below water, operators can detect relationships between the feeding and what is going on in the surrounding area. If there is a lot of activity around a cage, for example, it may cause the fish to eat less, in which case the operators know they should delay the feeding for the best possible results.
Lerøy Sjøtroll was first to open a growth centre, and by 2017 it had four of them, while Lerøy Aurora opened its first one on Karlsøy in 2017. In 2018, the decision was taken to also change the way in which Lerøy Midt fed its fish. Before the advent of the growth centres, feeding involved using feed barges at each of the 83 active locations that Lerøy had at the time.
“Many workers at our farms had a special relationship to the feeding, so it took a bit of getting used to for a lot of people”, says Ole.
There was a strong desire for feeding to be done in the same way across the whole group, regardless of location. With hindsight, it is clear the change has brought about various additional benefits. Ole highlights uptime in relation to optimising feeding as one of those benefits. Regardless of challenges caused by the weather, the fish need to be fed. In order for the feeding operators to do this, they need access to the camera and the winch controlling the camera, and there must be a stable connection between the centre and the cage.
Since the operators feed the fish remotely, they are completely reliant on the staff at the cages doing everything possible to maximise the uptime. Good communication is crucial, and every single operator has a radio earpiece which keeps them in constant contact with a growth controller on site.
“I’m so impressed when I think about how effective this teamwork has become”, says Ole.
Another advantage is that the operators at the growth centres work in open-plan offices. This has enabled them to cooperate in new ways, helping to create a highly skilled team that has developed its specialist expertise.
“Each of us used to be on our own barge, so we had no opportunity to discuss things or share experiences with other feeders, but now everyone finds out about everything that is going on. If you cannot resolve a situation yourself, it is easy to ask the people sitting around you”, says Ole.
Ole explains that this method of feeding has increased the expertise at Lerøy Midt.