Innovation is Crucial for Any Industry, Including Aquaculture

The quote, “innovation is the key to success” is one that successful fisheries or aquaculture industries can live by.

In order to address operational costs, farm site management concerns or even produce new and improved products, the industry is constantly innovating to stay ahead of the curve and remain competitive in the global market place. Those that do not, are swallowed by other companies or perish, essentially at their own hand.

While there are many new innovations in aquaculture, a few quick examples of more recent ones will show how these ideas are changing the industry.

Example of a small, versatile ROV for net inspection from Deeptrekker.com. Photo courtesy Deeptrekker.

Example of a small, versatile ROV for net inspection from Deeptrekker.com. Photo courtesy Deeptrekker.

ROVs
The use of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) for farm site monitoring and inspections is growing. At the recent Aquaculture Canada meetings in Nanaimo, British Columbia, the CEO of Marine Harvest of Norway commented on newly adopted ROV use on farms in BC.

These devices are used by finfish farmers with small or large steel or circular cages for tasks such as mooring assessments, net inspections, mort inspections, predator net inspections and more.

He also commented that there is tremendous cost savings to farm sites and more thorough inspections or better repairs can be conducted with the use of ROVs.

In the shellfish aquaculture industry, ROVs are being used to monitor bottom conditions, moorings and production systems and we will only continue to see more use in the future.

Mort lifts
Another innovation we have seen in recent years has been the use of mort lifts and daily mort removal systems. In large finfish cages, there are occasional daily mortalities and if these can be removed each day and stabilized, several important goals can be accomplished:

Example of a small, daily mort lift system on a netpen site.  Photo courtesy C. Couturier.

Example of a small, daily mort lift system on a netpen site. Photo courtesy C. Couturier.

  1. diver costs for mort removal is significantly reduced
  2. removal of potential decaying material from the sites immediately and
  3. removal of organic matter that can be stabilized for value added products, such as fertilizer or feeds for other animals.

On site net cleaners
Biofouling on nets is a perennial problem for finfish producers. It causes reduced water flow and results in lower oxygen to the fish, not to mention increased loads on net pens and their structures.

While approved antifoulants and regular net removal and cleaning is effective in reducing the effects of biofouling, the costs are continually increasing. This is where remotely operated net cleaners (RONCs) controlled via joystick and video controls come in.

The systems are operated on the inside of the net pens to “blow out” the fouling and keep the nets free of organisms. These systems, while expensive to purchase up front, result in clean nets throughout the production cycle and reduce costs for biofouling control significantly over time. The fish are happier and healthier as a result.

Example of a RONC used in net pen culture on the east and west coast of Canada.  Photo courtesy C. Couturier.

Example of a RONC used in net pen culture on the east and west coast of Canada.
Photo courtesy C. Couturier.

While very important, these are just three examples of recent innovations in the aquaculture industry that are saving companies thousands of dollars in operating costs, not to mention helping companies be responsible seafood farmers.

(Article modified slightly from the NAIA Cold-Harvester article by the author, July 2015)

Cyr Couturier

Cyr Couturier is a research scientist at the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University with 35 years of experience in applied R and D, training and education in aquaculture and fisheries. He is a Board and Executive member of several aquaculture & development associations (NAIA, AAC, CAIA, RDÉE TNL, CAHRC, etc.) and he has worked in aquaculture development in over 18 countries. The views expressed herein are his own. Contact: cyr@mi.mun.ca

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