Safety and risk management of aquaculture operations in exposed areas

PhD-student: Ingunn Marie Holmen


Professor Ingrid B. Utne (NTNU)
Professor Stein Haugen (NTNU)

Duration: Q1 2016 – Q4 2020

Aquaculture operations are already being carried out at the limits of what fish, equipment and operative personnel can tolerate. Experience from accident investigations and previous research work reveals that we have an inadequate understanding of the risk factors that may contribute to fish escapes and workplace accidents.

The aim of this Ph.D study is to contribute with new knowledge about the mitigation of risk linked to aquaculture operations. This will be achieved by developing tools for risk assessment and the monitoring of safety levels during the planning and implementation of aquaculture operations. The results shall contribute to the mitigation of risk linked to materials damage, fish escapes and occupational accidents, as well as safeguarding adequate levels of fish welfare.

Service vessels represent a key resource. They carry out many high-risk tasks, such as mooring operations, work on coupling plates and the lifting of base rings. Fish farm operations are still based on manual tasks that place great demands on the experience and skills of individual personnel.

Our preliminary work has focused on the organisation of safety at fish farms and on service vessels. Key safety indicators have been identified, including factors such as working practices, machine-human interaction and skills levels. A list of requirements has been drawn up related to risk assessments in the Norwegian fish farming sector, and status analysed on the basis of information derived from a selection of companies. Internal control regulations stipulate the involvement of all employees, and P4 project activities have involved testing a method that addresses this.

We are currently focusing further work on a holistic risk management approach based on human, technical and organisational safety factor considerations. This will form the basis for the development of effective safety barriers for use in aquaculture operations.