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Fish Escapes - Preventing Unnecessary Aquaculture Loss

Brendan Cook   |   August 10, 2017

Norway aquaculture making use of an underwater drone (ROV) and other submerged technology to monitor stock and enclosures for integrity fish escapes.

Fish farming is a big business. In 2015, the industry churned out 106 million metric tons of aquatic animals worth about $163 billion, according to a report in July from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. As an industry that has the potential to assist in many of the global concerns surrounding sustainable proteins and feeding of a growing population, it is one that is under heavy observation from scientists, environmentalists, and governments.

Norway Fish Farm Regulation on Fish Escapes

norway aquaculture preventing fish escapes

Norway is a global leader in aquaculture production and in regulation. As the environmental regulations around fisheries continue to develop, Norway fisheries have led the way in terms of introducing technology to assist in making sure they remain compliant with both health and environmental laws. Escaped fish is one of the most important considerations for a fishery and one that can be eliminated through proper monitoring and quick reaction time.

In Norway, aquaculture certification regulations require the reporting of escaped fish. These requirements include public reporting of certain environmental criteria which are particularly important for protecting the health and genetic integrity of wild environments. The Aquaculture Stewardship Council requirements include:

  • Farms shall report all escapes; the total aggregate number of escapees during a production cycle must be less than 300 fish.
  • Data on date of escape episode(s), the number of fish escaped and cause of the episode must be reported.
With this strict protocol, the entire industry has nearly been able to eliminate the number of escaped fish entirely.


Preventing Fish Escapes

Regardless of how the net was damaged, these circumstances can put an aquaculture farm out of compliance and quickly have them shut down. Fish escapes are also avoidable with the introduction of monitoring and observation technology. Allowing fishery operators to very early detect possible integrity failures in nets, the involvement of predators around their farms, and of course, determine and correct operator error which might prevent future escapes.

Norway Aquaculture Underwater Drone (ROV)


Aquaculture farms in Norway have seen the greatest advancement in containing escapes through the introduction of new netting techniques and other advanced technology such as a Deep Trekker underwater drone, known in the industry as a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), and drop cameras. By using an ROV, such as the DTG2, site managers have the ability to dive below the water and quickly identify possible threats to their stock, mooring lines, and netting. With this immediate foresight, they are able to respond swiftly to any inherent situation before it progresses into a larger problem.

Adhering to the Aquaculture Regulations

fish farm rov underwater drone inspection

When unmanaged, a small tear can quickly grow to put an aquaculture farm out of compliance. Governmental regulations are made tough to ensure the health and environmental safety of the surrounding waterways. The cost effective measure of adding an ROV into part of maintenance ensures that all measures of compliance are being met and that holes can be identified and fixed through either the underwater drone itself or by a diver once a situation has been determined as safe for human inspection.

As aquaculture continues to grow, the world will intensify its observation on this industry; pushing for the highest regulations to be met. As a viable source of sustainable protein and one way the world may be able to feed its vastly growing population, Deep Trekker looks forward to continually working to ensure farms have access to affordable monitoring technology required to lessen escapes, identify net integrity issues and support a positive and worthy industry to its full potential.

More on Underwater Drones uses in the Aquaculture Industry >


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