Ford Commercial Diving Services, who trade as 'Blast Off', are based in Tasmania and specialise in providing underwater services to the Australian fish farming industry. They pioneered in-water net cleaning techniques that allow the nets to remain in place without replacement for extended periods. Among other factors, this has contributed to larger nets being used to hold increased fish stocks.
These larger nets, some of which are up to 25 metres deep, have to be inspected at least twice a week for holes or damage and for the removal of dead fish, known as 'morts'. Historically this inspection and mort removal has been done by divers but, with over 90 nets to look after, the use of a Seaeye Falcon ROV has become a more efficient and economic alternative for these routine tasks while divers are kept busy providing the cleaning and repair services.
'The morts are removed using an air lift with an 8 inch suction hose capable of moving 1 tonne of small fish per minute'. Said Andrew Ford, MD of Ford Commercial Diving, 'To manoeuvre this hose under water requires a very capable ROV which must at the same time be portable and able of be man handled by a two man crew,' he added. The Falcon manipulator is used to hold the suction hose while the pilot guides the vehicle to suck up the morts. As soon as all of the morts have been collected from a net, the suction hose is released from the manipulator and recovered for deployment into the next net while the Falcon carries out the video survey for holes and damage.
Andrew says that he spent many weeks researching possible ROVs before settling on the Seaeye Falcon that he selected for its power, stability and the ease with which he can modify the system to accept his new ideas for the fish farming industry.
Source: Seaeye Ltd