Site Selection

A ROV comes in handy when wanting to create a profile of an area faster and easier than dropping a probe from a boat. An example of an application where a ROV and a multiparameter sonde is a powerful combination is for site selection and site monitoring. Understanding changes in dissolved oxygen, pH, salinity, chlorophyll, and more can help inform decisions of where to locate farms or changes that happen over the span of an area or over time.

Estimate Fish Sizes

Salmon Farmed in Aquaculture

Estimating fish sizes is important to help operators determine overall fish health, reproduction levels and growth stages while also ensuring that the stock is at a sustainable level.

Equipping a Deep Trekker ROV with a laser scaler provides farm employees with a valuable tool to quickly and accurately track fish sizes. The laser scaler sends out two laser beams 25mm apart from above the camera. Users can then make a reasonable estimate of the object’s size based on the dot spread.

Avoid Site Contamination

In this age of increased microbial risk, it’s imperative that tools enter the water clean and sanitized to prevent any contamination. Utilizing an ROV that can be sanitized prevents the introduction of contaminants into the water. Similar to boot dips and other cleaning practices, submersible ROVs should be cleaned as well. Deep Trekker vehicles can be fully sanitized with a variety of solutions, including chlorine solutions, with no negative effects on the ROV. By using an ROV that can be safely and completely sanitized, users can move from farm to farm without bringing harmful microbes with them. This is especially pertinent when sharing an ROV between sea sites and land-based facilities. Keep water clean and free of contaminants with a Deep Trekker ROV.

Use ROVs to monitor water quality, and general health and welfare of your fish farm

Practice Reliable Feed Monitoring

Feed monitoring plays a massive role in the success of a farm, in terms of fish health and financial sustainability, as well as water quality. Wasted food not only adds more suspended solids to the water but can contribute directly to the growth of algae.

Fish feed also has a direct impact on fish health and welfare. Proper feeding also ensures that fish reach harvest size in a reasonable amount of time. Further, feed regimes are strategically timed based on environmental factors like seasonality, water temperature, prevalence of particular diseases, algal blooms, and so on. Specialty feed types tend to be extremely expensive due to the many supplemental vitamins, minerals and amino acids. For these reasons, it’s imperative that farmers maximize the utility of these feeds.

Farms can make use of their ROV to monitor the feeding of their stock and ensure that they are employing the most efficient feeding practices. Upton detailed feed monitoring with the use of robotics. “Feed is by far the most expensive component at the fish farm,” highlighted Kana Upton of Aqua-Cage Fisheries. Using robotic solutions, Aqua-Cage Fisheries can monitor the feed intake of their stock.

“We’ve been working with Deep Trekker to develop a system to observe fish feeding in excessively warm temperatures,” explained Upton. “What happens when our water temperature reaches about 24 or 25 Celcius, which is surprisingly warm for our area, the larger fish who are getting the most feed don’t like to come up to that surface water, where it really piles up and heats up in that top metre or two. Instead they like to hang out at a cooler temperature down deep. This could be 20, 30 feet deep.

In more typical conditions, personnel are able to observe and monitor feeding behaviours from the feed boat. However in these warmer conditions the fish don’t come up to the surface, making observation from the feed boat impossible. “The problem is the fish are hanging out at depth and we can’t observe their feeding from the surface,” continued Upton. Using a Deep Trekker vehicle, Upton and her team can conveniently and accurately observe underwater feeding behaviours. “It allows us to better gauge the feed that we’ve rationed for the cages so that we are not underfeeding and allows us to get the fish up to size efficiently,” explained Upton.

Ensure Net Integrity

While it may not be immediately obvious, net integrity plays a significant role in water quality. Clean nets prevent the growth of organisms such as algae and minimizes suspended solids such as silt or soil. Well-maintained nets keep fish safely enclosed within the nets, while keeping other fish and animals out - allowing teams to know exactly what is in their pens. With an ROV, operators can easily make net inspections a part of their daily routine. Consistent net inspections allow pilots to monitor the regular wear and tear on lines, nets and mooring, as well as holes from potential pest incursions. By conducting regular inspections, fish farmers can reduce the risk of escapes.

Upton shared, “We typically use Deep Trekker ROVs to check out net pens for holes, so we’re checking the physical net structure. This is part of our due diligence and maintenance program but it’s also a requirement for the certification that we hold. We also monitor anchors and make sure that everything is still in check.”

In addition to the inspection of nets, Deep Trekker ROVs provide users with a reliable way to temporarily mend holes until a more permanent repair can be made. With the net patch users can quickly repair a net hole to minimize loss until the net can be more permanently fixed. Cristian Aguilera of Deep Trekker SpA elaborated on the net patch kit when he explained, “predators like sea lions cut the nets and our net patching tool allows for quick emergency repairs.”

Aquaculture net

Save Money by Reducing Diver Use

ROVs provide a safe alternative to divers, allowing farm operators to optimize their spending. The use of an ROV in lieu of divers provides farms with benefits in terms of finances, time and most importantly human safety. “It’s a safety concern having a diver in the water no matter what they’re doing,” said Upton. It is important to note that the use of ROVs “is not to get rid of the divers, but protect them,” as stated by Aguilera.

Chilean based Aguilera noted that farms in his area “changed from divers to ROVs about 6 years ago.” Aguilera went on to say that, “most of the things that are done on a fish farm today, whether that be inspections or mort retrieving, are done together with the ROVs.” Upton echoed this sentiment, “there hasn’t been a diver in the water for about 15 years now. Having a scuba diver check these nets presents an enormous amount of challenges. Bottom time is extremely limited at these depths, meaning that you can’t check as many nets in a day. Our regulations have also made it difficult to scuba dive at all without a special license or extensive training and support teams.”

The quick deployment and easy portability of Deep Trekker ROVs allow farms to use a submersible vehicle for smaller tasks that would otherwise require a dive team to complete. Sverre Føyen, site manager for Erko Seafood, noted that the easy and convenient deployment of the ROV allowed him and his team to save money. “Before we bought the ROV we had to contact divers for every little thing, from losing an item in one of the cages or just a quick check,” said Sverre. “I think that I have saved the price of buying the unit a few times since now I can do all the small things that I before needed divers to fix or check.”

Benefits of using Rovs for Maintaining Good Water Quality

By staying on top of nets, anchors and mooring line integrity, as well as quickly repairing holes, Deep Trekker ROVs allow farms to keep their nets in top condition.

In short, an ROV is one of the tools that can greatly enhance your team’s ability to monitor and maintain water quality levels for fish farming. As always our team is available to answer any questions you may have about utilizing ROVs for aquaculture. You can also reach out today for your own customized quote!

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