The semi-automated oyster-growing system FlipFarm won the 2021 Global Aquaculture Innovation Award

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A New Zealand company has been recognised for being a leader in oyster farm technology, by winning the 2021 Global Aquaculture Innovation Award at the Global Seafood Alliance Awards. FlipFarm Systems, designed and developed by the owners of Marlborough Oysters, beat 39 contestants from 24 countries.

The prize, which was handed to FlipFarm Systems at a virtual event, recognizes individuals and companies finding new solutions to the key challenges facing aquaculture. “Is not just a new oyster growing system, it’s a completely new way of thinking”, says the company.

“Our system takes efficiency and equipment resilience to a level never seen before in oyster farming systems. FlipFarm provides an ideal environment for oyster growth, conditioning and hardening along with the ability to have complete control over fouling, pests and predators. The system is extremely easy and efficient to use and can be adapted to many growing environments”, the company assures.

FlipFarm Managing Director and Owner/Operator of Marlborough Oysters, Aaron Pannell, is happy with the win, which further cements the company on the international stage, reported Voxy, from New Zealand. “Our FlipFarm technology officially launched two years ago and is used by more than 70 oyster farmers in 12 countries worldwide”, says Pannell.

“While carrying out the day-to-day operations at our oyster farming business, we identified the need for improved technology. We needed to evolve the growing process from the traditional system of plastic oyster growing bags clipped to growing lines with webbing lanyards”, explained the Director.

About the origin of this technology, Pannell told Voxy that the former system proved ineffective and the equipment would wear out and during stormy weather they would lose hundreds of oyster growing bags. This not only impacted their bottom line, and negatively impacted the environment, but meant staff were regularly called on to make repairs and retrieve lost equipment.

Is for that that Pannell knew there must be a better way, so he used his marine farming experience to design FlipFarm. ”We applied a completely new way of thinking about how oyster farmers can grow and harvest oysters, and the result was the world’s first semi-automated oyster growing system, made right here, in Blenheim”.

Privileged to win

“FlipFarm Systems is honored to be awarded the Global Seafood Alliance Innovation award for 2021!”, Pannell said to Seadfood Source. “Considering the extremely high caliber of the finalists, we feel very privileged to win this award on behalf of our hard-working team.”

The FlipFarm system, a semi-automated oyster growing setup in which Hexcyl Pro baskets -solid basket instead of the mesh bags previously used- are connected to a backbone that rolls up on the side of a harvesting vessel. It saves equipment costs in the long-run and employees from daily backbreaking labor.

The system offers a new level of efficiency, equipment resilience and strength, improved oyster quality and shelf life, environmental improvement and biofouling control. It can be adapted to many growing environments and grows very high-quality oysters in an environment (deep water) not normally associated with high quality production.

“This has resulted in better quality oysters for export and enables oyster farms all around the world, including the Pannell’s Marlborough Oysters which grows 15 million oysters each year, to operate year-round. The winner of the award, is adaptable to a variety of environments and is now used by more than 70 farmers in 12 countries worldwide.”

The recent Award follows FlipFarm Systems being named the 2021 Future Development Innovation Award winner by Seafood New Zealand as well as achieving a coveted ‘Good Design’ award from Good Design Australia earlier in the year, Voxy reported.

“We look forward to continuing our mission to deliver world class aquaculture solutions to the most sustainable and exciting industry in the world!”, finished Pannell.

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