Fish farm moorings need to be frequently adjusted

How can you customize a design and check compliance with standards like NS9415?

Whether developing a quote for a new fish farm mooring system, or reviewing an existing installation, as a mooring analyst, there’s seemingly always little adjustments or changes to check. And fish farm mooring systems can get large and complex. What seem like minor changes to one, may have unexpected effects without a comprehensive review. Suddenly, these apparently minor adjustments turn into a significant change management project. There’s so much to consider during mooring design and analysis: uncertain bathymetry, lease constraints, wind, waves, current, tidal elevation, installation vessels and operations, anchoring consideration, climate change – the list goes on.

Standards don’t tell you exactly what to do

Standards such as NS9415 provide many factors and guidelines to consider. Checking a mooring system design against standards means you’re greatly reducing the risks across the board: reducing the chance of equipment failure, preventing escapes, protecting the marine environment, and meeting local regulatory requirements, too. 

But finding a practical and cost-effective engineered solution can be overwhelming when faced with a myriad of requirements – and a shrinking timeline, too. The trick is something to help handle the sheer number of details involved in checking these factors.

What’s needed is purpose-built fish farm mooring design software

The software needs to be able to quickly set up the most commonly used farm architectures – steel cage or floating collar designs. It needs to make the process of setting up the mooring line lengths and positioning straightforward. A material library with commercially available components on hand is required to confirm mooring performance and strength requirements – and make the bill of materials when it comes time for purchasing. Reporting to confirm loads and strength levels in the right combination of currents and waves in accordance with standards requirements, is key, too.

Introducing the Fish Farm toolset

The ProteusDS Fish Farm toolset enables purpose-built fish farm mooring design and standards-checking features. It’s software that guides you through the detailed mooring grid layout and design process. It helps you systematically check a new or existing adjusted mooring design. Any updates you make can be checked to the related standards you’re most interested in for compliance.

Features and benefits

Rapidly configure common commercial farm mooring grid systems. Fish farm systems have thousands of mooring and rigging components that need to align properly in 3D space. It’s time consuming to get all the connectivity right – and you don’t want to miss a detail that could be critical to holding the farm together. The System Designer makes it quick and easy to generate typical floating collar or steel cage farm system grids based on common parameters like general farm dimensions and number of cages.

Easily reorient farm based on local site conditions. Every site has its own special challenges to accommodate a farm. The shape of the lease area, a nearby shoreline, complex bathymetry, or local current may all influence how a farm is oriented and often many little adjustments are necessary to find what works. The System Designer makes it easy to re-orient the farm system and mooring lines to see what the best fit could be.

Set initial mooring sag for quick pretension estimate. The farm system pretension is crucial to get right. With so many mooring lines, the process to make sure pretension is balanced can be tedious, with many small adjustments in line length to make. The System Designer specifies mooring sag to get a solid starting point for system grid pretension ahead of environmental load checks.

Automate mooring load checks in environmental batch cases. The farm mooring system needs to survive different combinations of environmental conditions from wind, currents, and waves. Mapping out what environmental load cases are needed can take time. Managing the resulting data can leave you feeling overwhelmed, too. The Case Explorer makes it straightforward to construct, simulate, and report on any combination of environmental load cases to check mooring loads strength requirements. 

Evaluate mooring strength to international standards. Standards like NS 9415, ISO 16488, or the Scottish Standard have different requirements for combinations of environmental load cases to check mooring strength. Mapping these specific requirements to mooring design software can take a lot of specialized focus and time. The Case Explorer makes it easy to follow international standard mooring strength requirements by generating the required load cases necessary.

Rapidly generate farm grid and mooring system with the Official Parts Library. Equipment suppliers the world over have an immense number of moorings, shackles, nets, compensator buoys, and more available. It takes a lot of time to generate model components from the technical specification sheets available. Save time by using the Official Parts Library to populate the farm grid and mooring system with commonly used components.

Automatically create a Bill of Materials to source parts. When the mooring design is done, you need a shopping list – a Bill of Materials – to source parts. But going over every component in the mooring and tallying up all the numbers and line lengths is a time-consuming and mind-numbing task. With one click in ProteusDS System Designer, you have a spreadsheet Bill of Materials for your mooring design based on parts you’ve included in the project ready to go.

Go far.

Go together.

DSA Ocean is an open and collaborative organization. There are government, university, and industrial research organizations all over the world that we work with. We actively research new techniques to use in our hydrodynamic models. Through these collaborations, we all learn together how to solve new problems.

Dig in to all aspects of mooring design with ProteusDS

  • Duplicate mooring lines to speed up farm grid layout
  • Rapidly adjust mooring length for different water depths
  • Dial in mooring pretension with prescribed line sag
  • Accelerate the design process with the Official Parts Library
  • Avoid stutter-step design by using the Official Parts Library
  • Create your own parts libraries using publicly available technical specification sheets
  • Check steady farm grid mooring deflection and loads in steady ocean currents
  • Check dynamic farm grid mooring deflection and loads in wind and ocean waves
  • Quickly swap out compensator buoy designs
  • Use software trusted by international aquaculture organizations like Cooke Aquaculture, AquaMoor, and Gael Force
  • Check mooring response to highly varying seabed bathymetry and shoreline geography
  • Use robust numerical net and line models that account for slack and snap loads in extreme conditions
  • Automatically generate cumulative net wake hydrodynamics from steady current loads
  • Synthesize farms with varying net half-mesh sizes for nursery, containment, or predator protection nets
  • Reach out for help with questions and feedback on the software from DSA Ocean’s ocean engineers
  • Incrementally build knowledge and expertise on mooring design with DSA Ocean’s email newsletter

My equipment supplier sent me an entire farm mooring grid design for my site

Equipment suppliers may size a farm based on what components they have readily available in stock rather than what’s optimal for your site. In addition, equipment suppliers may use different design processes and standards to establish a final mooring configuration. The result is that you may not have the right-sized components for your project. Eliminate the uncertainty by using the ProteusDS Fish Farm Toolset to design your farm to international aquaculture mooring standards. Shop the resulting mooring design using the Bill of Materials and farm layout drawings to multiple Equipment Suppliers for a cost-effective, competitive process.

The farm design hasn’t changed in years – can’t we keep using the same design?

Everything changes with time: international design standards are updated, new mooring materials are available, and new analysis techniques, too. Tried and true designs are important. But with hundreds of mooring lines and anchors in a single farm grid, even small design changes can mean substantial cost savings over the life of the farm. ProteusDS  makes it straightforward to investigate the use of different mooring materials and check compliance with different international standards.

ProteusDS Fish Farm toolset


Overview of what the software looks like and how it works to help the mooring design process


How long does it take to design a mooring?

The simplest farm grid systems may take a day of design and computational time on a powerful desktop computer. The more complex the project site, the more design work will be needed in processing bathymetry data, and mooring grid set up.

Do you offer software training?

Yes, and you have several choices. Use free online and video tutorials combined with live webmeetings to learn elements of the software. Work with DSA Ocean engineers through paid support options to accelerate learning and completing a project.

Do you have components from _____ manufacturer?

The Official Parts Library is publicly available and lists components by the manufacturer. We are always adding more. Please send suggestions in to any time!

Do I need an engineering degree to use this software?

Basic mooring design is possible with a technical background and practical marine experience. For more complex designs and unique applications, it helps to have an engineering background when you need to get into the details.

How do I get help on using the software?

We have many freely available tutorials and articles that can help. Email support is available, too, along with virtual training options. Read more on support options here.


Get a free demo to evaluate moorings in wind, waves, and currents

Apply 7 day fully functional demo the ProteusDS Fish Farm toolset. You can use this to learn the software and evaluate how it works to compute the mooring response in wind, waves, and currents.

What’s different about


When you are lost, a GPS is worth a lot to get you back on track. If you are working alone on a mooring design, it’s easy to feel lost. You can feel lost if you are working with a new mooring design you don’t have experience with. Or you can feel uncertain if you are facing an exposed mooring location with extreme environmental conditions like high speed ocean currents or waves.

When you are working with ProteusDS, you always have someone to ask for ideas and help. We work with mooring designers around the world and are experts in working with our software. If you are feeling lost, we are here to help give you ideas and find a way to take the next step in your design process.