Friday, April 27, 2018

27/04/2018: Changing the perspective: Underwater robotics enhancing aquaculture practices

By Deep Trekker, Canada

As the global population steadily increases, the human world continues to face its greatest challenge: how to deal with world hunger.

The United Nations recognises that aquaculture may be the sustainable protein source required to help accomplish such a feat. As promising as the industry may be, there remains an abundance of challenges around aquaculture as a solution to this complex issue.

Due to the fact that 90 per cent of aquaculture operations are underwater, the industry has turned to new and innovative technologies to overcome its unique challenges to ensure sustainable and high-quality food source. The most widely accepted system is remotely operated vehicles (ROV), otherwise known as underwater drones. These robotic cameras offer immediate access to observe aquaculture operations from underwater – providing numerous benefits for site managers, enforcement officers and researchers around the globe.

Image credit: Deep Trekker

Operation uses of ROVs for aquaculture farms

Aquaculture farms are using ROVs every day to perform a variety of tasks to assist site mangers and better understand fish and health behaviour, and as a result produce a better product. ROVs have not always been widely accessible to aquaculture farms, and site managers would previously hire professional commercial divers to complete inspections or use limiting static cameras to inspect submerged infrastructure.

With the option of using an ROV, site managers can now navigate extensive infrastructure and attach tools such as benthic samplers, mort retrieval systems and net repair patches.

Monitoring feeding times

Traditionally, fish behaviour is monitored from the surface – an employee will disperse an allocated amount of feed into each cage. In cases where an automatic feeder is used, a static camera is mounted within the cage below the feeder. Both tactics are great examples of how ROVs can be used and gives a complete picture of what happens during feeding time. Employees are able to manoeuvre the ROVs throughout the subsea environment to monitor fish behaviour and ensure the fish population is being fed evenly and no excess food is being dispersed.

Monitoring school behaviour
The salmon species is known to jump when they are happy; a characteristic that aquaculture professionals look for as a sign that things are running smoothly below the waterline. When oxygen levels are low, fish begin to school deeper into enclosures where it is cooler and oxygen-rich. ROVs are a quick way to see if the schooling behaviour is changing. The Deep Trekker robotic system is completely battery operated, meaning a single person can carry it between pens for a quick look at any time during the day, without the hassle of setting up a large system or finding a nearby power supply or generator. Monitoring fish behaviour throughout the day also provides the education needed to help spot potential threats such as low oxygen or algae blooms.

Read the full article, HERE.

Visit the Deep Trekker website, HERE.

The Aquaculturists
This blog is maintained by The Aquaculturists staff and is supported by the
magazine International Aquafeed which is published by
Perendale Publishers Ltd

For additional daily news from aquaculture around the world: aquaculture-news

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