Fishency Innovation has developed the SmartFunnel for digital sea lice counting and monitoring to improve lice prevention and safeguard fish health and the environment.
The spread of sea lice threatens salmon production and the environment. If allowed to reach full size, sea lice prevent fish from growing, ultimately resulting in mortality. The aquaculture industry needs high-quality data to combat sea lice spread, cut treatment costs, improve fish welfare, reduce losses and protect the environment.
Many methods of monitoring sea lice are labour intensive and disruptive to fish. In Norway, counting of sea lice is generally performed manually. Some 10 to 20 fish are removed temporarily from their pens, sedated and closely inspected each week. The results are reported to the authorities.
There are some 5 000 pens throughout the country, each holding approximately 200 000 fish. This sample size is much too small, yielding unreliable and unrepresentative data on which fish farmers have to assess the need for treatment. Moreover, handling is stressful to the fish and has a negative impact on fish welfare.
The SmartFunnel monitors fish health without handling. The solution combines hardware with advanced machine learning to collect and analyse high-quality data.
The SmartFunnel is installed underwater in the pens. As the fish swim through the funnel, a high-resolution, 360-degree image is taken by cameras. The software processes, stores and transfers the images. It identifies the sea lice, analyses the data and automatically generates a report that is sent daily to the fish farmer. This enables them to continuously monitor a much larger sample of salmon and quickly identify individuals with traces of sea lice on their body.
The SmartFunnel eliminates labour-intensive sampling methods and allows fish farmers to take a larger sample size, giving them better decision support to optimise treatment and measure the effectiveness of preventive measures. It also improves accuracy and repeatability, and can increase the productivity and reduce the environmental impact of fish farms.
Primarily designed for sea lice counting, the solution can also be used for measuring biomass, identifying external deformities, ulcers or damage, as well as for monitoring the environment of the fish. In future, it will have the capacity to identify individual salmon. Looking ahead, such a technology could be adapted for use with rainbow trout and potentially other farmed fish as well.
The global salmon market achieved a volume of 3.7 million metric tons in 2018, and is projected to reach 4.7 million metric tons by 2024. There is promising potential for growth in Norway, which accounts for more than 50 per cent of the global supply of salmon, as well as internationally.
The SmartFunnel has been verified and commercial launch is planned for early 2020. At present, it is the only sea lice counting solution coming to the market that scans 100 per cent of the fish.
2. Zero hunger
The SmartFunnel enables fish farmers to produce a higher quantity of higher quality fish with reduced impact on the environment.
9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure
The SmartFunnel helps to make the aquaculture industry more sustainable by allowing farmers to be proactive rather than reactive with respect to fish welfare.
12. Responsible consumption and production
The SmartFunnel promotes responsible and sustainable fish production.
14. Life below water
The SmartFunnel reduces the need for boat operations and amount of drugs and chemicals used in fish farming. By providing proper monitoring, it improves control of sea lice in farmed salmon and reduces exposure to sea lice in wild salmon.