Innovations In Aquaculture Worth Adopting
Shannon Regan | August 14, 2019
For the first time in history, the consumption of farmed fish has exceeded that of wild-caught fish, and by 2030, aquaculture is expected to account for two-thirds of the fish that humans consume.
The increased demand for fish has put a strain on resources and sustainable practices among fisheries, requiring the innovative use of existing and new technologies. Fortunately, there is great potential to produce this protein source sustainably through the adoption of technology.
## What is AquacultureAquaculture refers to the cultivation of aquatic organisms in controlled aquatic environments for any commercial, recreational or public purpose. The breeding, rearing and harvesting of plants and animals takes place in all types of water environments including ponds, rivers, lakes, the ocean and man-made systems on land. Aquaculture serves many purposes, including: - Food production for human consumption; - Rebuilding of populations of threatened and endangered species; - Habitat restoration; - Wild stock enhancement Aquaculture is one of the fastest growing forms of food production in the world. Because harvest from many wild fisheries has peaked globally, aquaculture is widely recognized as an effective way to meet the seafood demands of a growing population. Using aquaculture techniques, researchers and the aquaculture industry are farming all types of freshwater and marine species of fish and shellfish, with the help of remotely operated vehicles for inspection purposes.
## Invest in Technological Innovation
Aquaculture is a young industry—decades behind that of livestock farming. Disease control, feeds and nutrition and low-impact production systems are areas where technology can be used to improve efficiency. These sorts of innovations—whether led by farmers, research institutions, companies, or governments—are proven to increase productivity of fish farms, globally.
## Adopt Remotely Operated VehiclesRemotely operated vehicles (ROVs) offer applications for aquaculture below the water. Deep Trekker ROVs can be utilized for monitoring offshore fish farms and can take on any number of tasks that currently require specialized and expensive human intervention, such as inspecting underwater nets for damage or holes. With Deep Trekker’s latest innovations, net inspections can be completed quickly and easily, often in less than 30 minutes per pen due to ROV’s ability to capture video in a 270-degree vertical arc. The system also allows operators to inspect nets from top to bottom, often in only one or two passes around the circular pen. Optional side-facing cameras allow technicians to perform lateral inspections with ease by simply flying the ROV around the cage.
## Net Inspection
To address operational and regulatory requirements faced by aquaculture farms, Deep Trekker ROVs are easily and quickly deployed on any farm to carry out occasional or regular inspections of underwater infrastructure and equipment such as nets and moorings.
## Mort Retrieval
Morts are an inevitable part of the fisheries and aquaculture industry. Throughout the smolt introduction up to the harvest, Deep Trekker ROV systems can be used with the mort retrieval system to efficiently remove or bring morts to the lift up systems.
These specially designed mort digger and lifter tools have been rigorously tested. The technology has been refined based on customer feedback.
## Monitoring Fish Behaviour
Deep Trekker’s aquaculture ROV allows operators to monitor the health of their fish stock. It can be used to detect signs of unusual fish behavior that are possible indicators of health risk and it can also detect changes in underwater environments.
## Focus Beyond the Farm
Most aquaculture regulations and certifications focus at the individual farm level. But having many producers in the same area can lead to cumulative environmental impacts—such as water pollution or fish diseases—even if everyone is following the law.
Planning and zoning can ensure that aquaculture operations stay within the surrounding ecosystem’s carrying capacity and can also lessen conflicts over resource use. Norway’s zoning laws, for example, ensure that salmon producers are not overly concentrated in one area, reducing disease risk and helping mitigate environmental impacts.
## The Future of AI
Collecting most of their information from underwater inspection cameras, such as Deep Trekker’s DTPod – and sensors, aquaculture farms are harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to improve decision-making.
According to The Economist, nearly 32 percent of wild-caught fish are procured unsustainably. The introduction of AI can greatly reduce overexploited fish species through ROV systems that use AI to identify species and enable greater accountability of harvesting practices.
## Virtual reality is opening eyes to aquaculture (quite literally!)
The opportunities for Virtual Reality (VR) in the aquaculture industry can be used for training and education. VR is being used by NTNU to pique the next generation’s interest in aquaculture. NTNU has developed an aquaculture simulator that uses VR to allow students to virtually visit a fish farm. Now that’s fin-tastic!
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