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1. (WO2019045571) TUNICATE TENDING AND HARVESTING SYSTEM AND METHOD
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Claims

1. Tunicate tending and harvesting system for the tending and harvesting of tunicates grown on at least one elongated, suspended growth surface, where the system is characterized in comprising:

- a tending and harvesting machine (14), the machine (14) comprising:

- at least a first and a second treatment stage, and means for moving the at least one growth surface (7) sequentially through the treatment stages;

- the first treatment stage comprising squeezing means (1 1) arranged to squeeze out soft inner part of the tunicates (15) on the at least one growth surface (7), and first stage collection means (13) arranged to collect the squeezed out parts; and

- the second treatment stage comprising removal means (16) for removing parts of the tunicates (15) remaining after the first stage, and second stage collection means (17) arranged to collect the removed parts.

2. Tunicate tending and harvesting system according to claim 1 , where the squeezing means comprises two mainly cylindrical rollers (1 1 ) arranged to squeeze the tunicates (15) when the growth surface (7) passes there between.

3. Tunicate tending and harvesting system according to one of the claims above, where the removal means (16) are arranged for scraping off parts of the tunicates (15) remaining after the first stage, and comprises at least one of the following: a scraping edge and brush.

4. Tunicate tending and harvesting system according to one of the claims above, where the machine (14) further comprises:

- a third treatment stage comprising cleaning means (19) for cleaning the growth surface (10) after the second stage, where the cleaning means (19) comprises at least one of the following: a brush roller (19) and a high pressure liquid or gas jet (20).

5. Tunicate tending and harvesting system according to claim 3 or 4, where the third treatment stage comprises third stage collection means arranged to collect cleaned off parts of the tunicates (15).

6. Tunicate tending and harvesting system according to one of the claims 4 to 5, where the system comprises disinfection equipment arranged to disinfect the growth surface (7).

7. Tunicate tending and harvesting system according to one of the claims above, where the first treatment stage comprises a residual removal means (22) arranged to remove residuals remaining on the squeezing means (1 1), and residual collection means (23) arranged to collect the removed residuals.

8. Tunicate tending and harvesting system according to claim 7, where the residual removal means (22) comprises a brush roller.

9. Tunicate tending and harvesting system according to one of the claims above, where the means for moving the growth surface comprises at least one of the following: a take up reel (21) arranged to collect and feed out the growth surface after/before passing the treatment stages, and squeezing means comprising motorized rollers (16, 22) arranged for contributing to the moving.

10. Tunicate tending and harvesting system according to claim 9, where the system comprises threading means comprising a pre-threaded ribbon (24) extending through the treatment stages to the take up reel (21 ), arranged to be coupled end-to-end to the growth surface (7), and to pull the growth surface (7) through the treatment stages and onto the take up reel (21 ).

1 1. Tunicate tending and harvesting system according to claim 8 or 9, where the threading means comprises a re-deployment means arranged to reverse the direction of travel of the growth surface (7) and pre-threaded ribbon.

12. Tunicate tending and harvesting system according to one of the claims 10 to 1 1 , where the system comprises means for sensing passage of a junction

mechanism joining the growth surface (7) and the pre-threaded ribbon (24) and/or hard objects such as clams and rocks adhering to the growth surface (7) during passage through the tending and harvesting machine (14), and for automatic retraction of at least one of the following: the roller, the brush and the scraping edge in response to signals from the sensing means to avoid hitching and entanglement .

13. Tunicate tending and harvesting system according to one of the claims above, where the tending and harvesting system further comprises a positioning subsystem arranged for positioning the tending and harvesting machine (14) for

connection/access to the at least one elongated, suspended growth surface (7).

14. Tunicate tending and harvesting system according to claim 13, where the positioning subsystem comprises:

- a rig arranged for carrying the machine (14);

- rig positioning means for positioning the rig in proximity of the at least one growth surface (7); and

- machine positioning means arranged for positioning the machine (14) at locations on the rig allowing the machine (14) to access the growth surface (7).

15. Tunicate tending and harvesting system according to claim 13 or 14, where the positioning subsystem comprises communication and control means arranged to receive information of a task to be performed related to at least one production module (10) comprising the at least one growth surface (7), and an identity (address) of the at least one production module (10), the rig positioning means adapted to be guided by at least one of the following arranged on the production module (10): beacons, sensors, camera-readable tags, and geometric cues linked to the production modules (10).

16. Tunicate tending and harvesting system according to claim 14 or 15, where the rig comprises its own buoyancy means and mobility means for carrying and navigating the machine (14) on water.

17. Tunicate tending and harvesting system according to claim 16, where the buoyancy means comprises at least two pontoons (36) arranged with a distance in between adapted to straddle productions modules where the growth surface (7) is arranged, and where the rig further comprises a frame (33) with an opening allowing access for the machine to the growth surface (7).

18. Tunicate tending and harvesting system according to claim 14, where rig positioning means comprises a floor or rail system arranged on top of a number of production modules (10).

19. Tunicate tending and harvesting method for the tending and harvesting of tunicates (15) grown on at least one elongated suspended growth surface (7), where the method is characterized in comprising the following steps:

- tending and harvesting the growth surface (7) comprising:

- moving the growth surface (7) sequentially through treatment stages;

- in a first treatment stage, squeezing out soft inner part of the tunicates (15) on the growth surface (7), and collecting the squeezed out parts; and

- in a second stage, removing parts of the tunicates (15) remaining after the first stage, and collecting the removed parts.

20. Tunicate tending and harvesting method according to claim 19, where the step of removing parts comprises scraping with a scraping edge or a brush.

21. Tunicate tending and harvesting method according to one of the claims 20 -21 , further comprising the following steps:

- in a third treatment stage, cleaning the growth surface (7) after the second stage, where the step of cleaning comprises at least one of the following: brushing by a brush roller (19) and using a high pressure liquid or gas jet (20).

22. Tunicate tending and harvesting method according to one of the claims 19-21 , further comprising:

- positioning the tending and the harvesting machine (14);

- coupling the machine to the growth surface (7);

- threading the growth surface into the machine (14);

- tending and harvesting the growth surface (7); and

- redeploying the growth surface (7).