Ireland to Norway 2015

Norwegian trip 2015


Visit from Ireland, May 2015


In early May, Val upper secondary school had a pleasant visit by a group of students from Ireland, through a project called Euaqua. The aim of this project is to develop expertise on an international level, and thus learn from each other and about the species that the other countries have more experience about than us and vice versa. We had exchanges of students to Ireland not many weeks before they came to us. Then there were six students and two staff from Norway, that had an exciting and educational week in Ireland.



The Irish students would learn more about our salmon, both hatcheries and fish farms. This we could offer. During the two weeks they were here, they saw hatcheries and fish farms with many different companies, including Marin Harvest and Salmonor.


They did visit Sinkaberg Hansen’s slaughterhouse and try a boat simulator. In addition, we had a nice trip to Brønnøysund where they saw how we repaired and washed nets. We visited one enclosed farms in Toft and had a beautiful social trip to Torghatten.



Between two eventful weeks of practice and fish farm visits, they had a weekend at Val, where we had many different activities on the program. We were out fishing. The fish we caught was cooked over an open fire. We also went on some hiking in Nærøy`s beautiful nature. Furthermore, we were on Norveg museum, which shows how a lot of the history of fishing in Norway.


Hopefully,  four happy Irish-men vent home from Norway, with many impressions and many experiences richer. We greatly appreciate this kind of collaboration, and hope on several trips and visits in the future.

Written by Anette Hølleland



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Aquaculture Fetac Level 5 Work Experience Aideen Kearney

I carried out my work experience on a Marine Harvest smolt farm in Salsbruket, Norway.

  1. Learning Goals:
  • Successfully carry out batch weights
  • Measuring weight and length of smolts
  • Identify signs of disease or infection
  • Gill inspections
  • Gill tests
  • Maintain healthy parameters
  • Anesthetise fish
  • General maintance on a fish farm
  1. Skills Audit:
  • Punctuality
  • Knowledge of the life cycle of the salmon
  • Anatomy of salmon
  • Communication skills
  • Health and safety training
  • Correct manual handling training
  • Biosecurity
  • Good personal hygiene
  • Data recording
  1. Activities and events during work experience:
  • Routine gill tests are carried out on a weekly basis on this particular site in order to assess the health of the salmon. Because the farm has a flow-through system, the fish are more susceptible to diseases and infections i.e. amoeba gill disease. These tests required me to select 10 fish from each tank and carefully dissect the gill on the left side of the smolt and remove the second gill using a scalpel and tweezers and place it in a small test tube of 10% formalin. These samples were then sent on to the fish vet to ensure and maintain good health on the site.
  • One of the most important duties on the farm was removing mortalities. This was the first task each morning. It is vital for the well-being and stress levels of the healthy fish to remove any dead, injured or deformed fish. Most of the mortalities suffered from lacerations as a result of the territorial instincts of the salmon and cold sores caused by the inevitable low temperatures of the water. When the mortalities were removed they were then placed in a bucket of MS222 to anesthetise the fish to a state of humane mortality.
  • The size of the pellets given to the fish depends on the size of the fish’s mouth. Because food is the most important element of aquaculture, it is vital to give the fish the right amount of food and the right size pellet. One of the tasks carried out on the site was hygienically transferring larger sized pellets from one silo to bags that were then stored in a well ventilated storage room. Marine Harvest use an automated feeding system.
  • 100 fish tests are a routine weekly task to measure the weight, length and quality of 25 of the fish’s fins. Fins are given a grade from 1-5 (5 being the worst condition). Some of the salmon suffered from damaged or broken fins due to high stocking densities in the tanks. These figures are again used to monitor any irregularities. The data is an indicator of the overall health status of the fish. A stock solution of 30ml of MS222 in 10 litres of freshwater is used to anesthetize the fish for handling. Gloves have to be worn when handling the fish.
  • I also visited the cages that the smolts are eventually transferred to. Sea lice are a major problem in Norwegian fjords due to the lack of current flowing through the site. The sea lice are transmitted from the wild migratory salmon passing the cages. Wrasse and lumpfish are put into the salmon cages as a mean to control the spread of lice. These fish are scavengers and eat the parasites that are using the salmon as their hosts. There has to be an average of 0.1 lice per fish before it has to be treated. Possible treatments are in feed treatment called SLICE or a hydrogen peroxide bath in a well boat. We inspected 30 salmon from each cage and recorded the amount of mobile and immobile Lepeophtheirus salmonid lice.
  1. Review of activities:

Norway is renowned for its salmon farming and its second largest industry. I have briefly done seasonal duties but this kind of aquaculture varies throughout the year. I didn’t see the hatchery, spawning, first feeding or harvesting/marketing side of the industry on this particular farm however; I briefly visited a small scale salmon hatchery.

  1. Review of learning goals and skills audit:

I was very happy with the tasks I completed on the Marine Harvest smolt farm and the skills I have acquired over the duration of my work experience. All of my learning goals were achieved. There was a noticeable difference between the standards in the workplace in Norway in comparison to the sites in Ireland. My work placement was highly relevant to my career aspirations and the skills I gained will be of great use to me.

Name: Aideen Kearney


Aquaculture Fetac Level 5 Work Experience Killian Doran

The work experience I carried out was on a smolt farm in Salsbruket, Norway. The farm was located 30 meters below a dam which is its water supply. During the time I spent there I learned many things regarding salmon health and also developed new skills.

Picture of the farm


Learning Goals

Whilst working on the smolt farm I had hoped to learn in greater detail what exactly happens to the salmon as they develop in to smolts and what tasks the farm had to undertake during the process of the fish becoming ready to live in salt water. I also wanted to learn what diseases and other obstacles they are faced with and how they deal with these problems. I was also interested in learning about what happens when there are no smolts on the site.

Skills Audit

Because I had never worked on a smolt farm before, I wasn’t entirely sure as to what skills I would need in order to be able to complete the tasks given to me. These are the few skills I was able to think of:

  • To use a net
  • To be able to count
  • To be able to lift bags of feed

Work Experience

During the time I was at the farm only 8 of their 24 tanks were in operation as they had begun sending the smolts to sea. The first task I was given was to remove the mortalities from the tanks. This was done with a net and using the water current to scoop up any mortalities from the middle of the tank where the water flows to. This task was then carried out at the beginning of every day by me whilst I was working on the farm.

When I was finished removing mortalities I began cleaning out the inside of the tanks that were empty. This was done using a power hose. First a special soap was sprayed all over the tank walls, the input and output and the oxygen diffuser. The soap was left to set for ten minutes, then I washed off all the dirt with the power hose. I was tasked with washing 2 tanks a day before lunch time.

After lunch I had to do what they called the “100 fish test”. This test was examining the condition of the smolts dorsal and pelvic fins, then they were weighed and measured length ways. Only the fins of the first 25 fish were examined and they were rated from 0-3. 0 meaning that the fins were in perfect condition and 3 meaning that the fins were damaged to the point that they were nearly impossible to see. The fish are caught with a net then placed in a bucket that has anaesthetic in it. When the fish are ready, they are then examined, weighed and measured. The fish are then returned back into the tank where they quickly regain consciousness. All records were kept on a specially designed sheet and later entered into the farms data base.

This task is carried out by 2 people, one catches, anaesthetizes, measures, weighs and examines the fish whilst the other person makes a record of the results. This test was carried out on 2 of the tanks every day. Normally the tanks are tested monthly but before the salmon are sent to sea, the test is done weekly.

On one of the days where there wasn’t much work to do we had to move all the feed out of a silo that was connected to an empty tank to one tonne bags. This involved emptying the silo with a bucket, pouring the bucket in to a tub that had a 1 tonne bag connected to the bottom of it. A forklift tilted the tub which allowed the feed to pour in to the bag which was then put in to a storage area designated for feed.

One of the last tasks that I carried out was checking the gills of the fish for ATPS. To do this test 10 live fish were taken from 2 tanks which contained 100,000 fish each. They are then put into a bucket filled with water and lethal dose of finquel(anaesthetic) is added to the water. The fish are measured and weighed before the gill cover on the left side is removed with a scissors and a piece of the second gill ring is removed and placed into a test tube. These test tubes are then sent away to a marine harvest lab where they are observed under a microscope. It is important not to do this test on fish that were already dead as they are more susceptible to disease and wouldn’t give you an accurate account of the health of the live fish.

Review of Activities

I learned a lot about the day to day running of a smolt farm. There are a lot more tasks carried out than I had previously anticipated. Everything that is done on the farm is done to great detail and with incredible accuracy, from the counting of mortalities to the testing of the second gill ring on the left side of the fish.

Review of learning Goals and Skills Audit

I was able to learn a lot more about this part of the growth cycle and how much care is required to keep the salmon healthy. All fish are vaccinated whilst they are smolts to prevent diseases such as pancreas disease. I also learned about how they are starved prior t transport to prevent them from getting stressed. Wildlife can be a major problem for a farm like this one where they have a number of tanks outside but they have covered all the tanks with nets to prevent any birds feeding on the fish.

Not only did I need to be able to count fish, use a net and lift bags of feed I also needed to be able to remove the correct part of the gills with precision, identify any mortalities at the bottom of the tanks, calculate how much anaesthetic to add to the water and how to properly use the weighing scale.

I believe that what I have learned whilst on work experience in Salsbruket, will be incredibly helpful to me in my future plans to run my own smolt farm here in Ireland. I learned skills that can’t be taught in a class room. It was also very useful to see how things are done differently on Norway compared to Ireland which will help me be more efficient in the future.

Name: Killian Doran

Aquaculture Fetac Level 5 Work Experience Michael Sweeney

Learning goals

My goal was to gain more knowledge of the industry to get some hands on experience on a Salmon farm, see the similarities and differences between Irish and Norwegian farms and see some advanced technology in use on salmon smolt farms.

Skills audit

  • ability to collect and handle fish
  • examine fish for disease, recognise lice
  • observations skills both on monitor and on site
  • boat handling skills
  • feed calculations
  • application of treatments
  • crane handling
  • rope handling

Account of activities and events during work experience

Visits included :

  • salmon processing plant
  • educational salmon farm with closed pens
  • working salmon farm
  • research farm
  • smolt farm

Review of activities

Visit to Smolt Farm

We visited the Midt-Norsk Havbruk smolt farm called Osan Settefisk. It is the smallest of their 3 hatcheries, with an annual capacity of 700,000 smolts.

The visit was educational for us as we had only seen a disused low tech smolt facility in Ireland. See some notes on the visit below :

We observed small fish at 600 degree days which had started to feed after 200 degree days

Water taken from lake 5 degree today normally 1.5 never over 8 degrees C Water heated to 9ºC in a heat exchanger Nitrogen up needs to be removed if over 102 per cent as it can cause bubbles in fish Tanks with 200000 fish 13 degrees 9 month cycle Get to sea at 60g 3 per cent growth per day Smaller ones can be 5/6 per cent per day can be too fast No eggs in summer only in Nov /March, start feeding in May Smoltification managed by light manipulation 18000 fish constant light 380000 each batch, 2 per year 5 per cent mortality Eggs are bought in and settled Fish vaccinated in June, at 40 to 60 g, go to sea in August

Work experience on Salmon farm

We spent two days at a Midt-Norsk Havbruk farm

We aided and observed everyday husbandry duties such as feeding, lice counting, morts removal, feed stocking, bird removals.

What was interesting was to observe the Norwegian workers. There was no ‘husbandry manager’ who did all the important tasks. Although there was a site manager you wouldn’t have noticed as he was doing all the ‘dirtiest’ tasks too.

Working day was from 8am to 3.30pm, the atmosphere was very relaxed.

For one day we also assisted on the Val research farm. Here we handfed small numbers of salmon which are part of research project into using various in feed compounds to eliminate lice. The results have been promising so far.

Relationship of work experience to career aspirations and plans

The work experience followed on naturally from our course at BIM which involved several visits to salmon farms.

It gave us more insight into working on a Norwegian salmon farm, although calm waters, blue skies and excellent facilities may have given us a rose-tinted impression.

If one is considering working or applying to work on an Irish Salmon farm I think some work experience on an Irish farm would be more beneficial. Working conditions and environment are quite different in Ireland,being less comfortable than in Norway.

The visits to the smolt farms was interesting, although it would have been more beneficial to study the technology used at the facilities in more detail either before or after we visited there.

Although my primary interest is in Oyster farming I feel that I would be more confident applying to work on an Irish salmon farm after the BIM course and the trip to Norway.

Name: Michael Sweeney


Michael Sweeney work experience 2015

Killian Doran work experience 2015

Aideen Kearney work experience 2015




Increased Knowledge about European Aquaculture