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Chopper lift secures safe delivery of fish farm pens

28 October 2010

Northern Isles Salmon and aquaculture equipment manufacturer Fusion Marine have solved the logistical headache of delivering a consignment of salmon pens to a remote hill loch by mounting a specially arranged operation using a heavy-lift capacity helicopter

Northern Isles Salmon was looking to upgrade its smolt-growing operation at Loch Garasdale in North Kintyre from ex-seawater steel square pens to a new farming system incorporating Fusion Marine Aquaflex circular pens made from tough polyethylene to ensure the highest possible level of containment, while maintaining a low visual impact.

However, the remote location and difficult access to the loch ruled out road transport as a viable option. Instead, the materials for the 50m circumference pens was delivered to the nearby coastal site at Rhunahaorine Point for fabrication before airlifting each completed pen to the loch five miles away in the nearby hills.

The Super Puma AS332C, which was chartered from specialist helicopter service company Helirig, completed the job of lifting the consignment of 2.7 tonne pens to Loch Garasdale in around four hours. Each pen was slung beneath the helicopter on a specially designed 12m long sling arrangement.

Michael Newman of Helirig said: “It takes a specialist long-line pilot and vertical reference flying techniques to do this sort of job safely. We are delighted that the job went so smoothly.

“This is the first time we've completed a delivery project for the fish farming industry and there were some difficult elements to overcome, including designing a sling arrangement that ensured the pens didn’t get damaged.”

Once all the pens were on site, Fusion Marine engineers completed the order with construction of a central access pontoon with the pens arranged in a four-by-four arrangement on either side. The pens were supplied with full safety decking and bird net supports, with the final package delivering a versatile and highly secure fish farm system.

Steven Butler of Northern Isles Salmon said: “The secure containment of fish is a top priority for any company and this is why we have invested in Fusion Marine Aquaflex pens.

“This is only the first step to achieving the level of containment required in exposed hill lochs. Further investment has been made to increase net specification to augment our containment measures and provide Northern Isles Salmon with a safe and stable platform to grow smolts.”

Iain Forbes of Fusion Marine said: “This was a complicated logistical problem that required a specialised solution. The helicopter lift was a fantastic achievement that secured the safe delivery of the pens.”

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