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Håkon works for Flokenes Fiskefarm, a family-owned company that started in 1984 almost by chance. Håkon’s father and a friend, for fun, applied for a license to run a fish farm and, to his surprise, received a grant.
Håkon welcomes us in beautiful summer weather. The fjord is calm and pristine. A light breeze rustles the fish farming equipment. We are standing on a kind of cage, a holding place for the salmon, and it moves gently in the rippling water. Håkon tells us that it is not always this calm. He says that in rougher weather, it’s better – and safer – to lean on digital technology to keep production running smoothly.
“We rely entirely on communication technology to make this happen. Everything related to production is online. We have our own solution where we detect irregularities in feeding, fish counting and more. These tools also let us monitor and log all data measurements which helps us plan our production cycle. We can calculate exactly how much feed we need to order so that we get the right amount of feed and do not run out before the next delivery,” he explains.
Today, four families run what is one of the smallest fish farms in the country. The clusters of fish farms are beautifully situated in Førdefjorden, between steep mountains in Sogn and Fjordane. The fjord is known to be one of the most species-rich and cleanest fjords in Western Norway; an ideal starting point for the family business that produces salmon to be exported across the world.
Despite his young age, Håkon has seen rapid development in technology during the ten years he has worked on the fish farm.
“The development has been incredible. We have gone from having yellow post-it notes everywhere to having everything digital and in the cloud. We can detect problems and manage operations using the mobile app while we are out on the fish cages. All this information is automatically uploaded to our database, thanks to reliable 4G,” he says.
Håkon believes we have only seen the “tip of the iceberg” of what we can expect from technology in the fishing industry. We ask him to fantasize freely and ask him what kind of technology he wants the most in the coming years. Håkon is sits back in the sun and thinks.
“I actually think nano-robots would be useful to destroy the salmon louse”
The contrast to how it was 30 years ago could not have been greater. Then there was hardly any technology at all: only spreadsheets, calculators and faxes. The equipment has changed. Everything is bigger and heavier. Larger cages and modules.
“Today we have a camera where we can monitor feeding. We have safety radios that will alert the land base if you fall into the sea. From there, an alarm signal automatically goes to the emergency operators in Ålesund. Although we are initially well shielded from storms, we can experience rough seas when we get strong wind in from the northwest,” Håkon concludes, “The technology gives us peace of mind when it’s rough out.”