A Novel Biomass Management System
Every year fish escape from fish farms posing a new form of environmental pollution. An active multi-purpose capsule device, remotely controlled by a surveillance and control system is under development to stop escaping fish doing damage.
How does it work
The AquaFarmControl project will build a system to optimize the efficiency of fish farming. This will be acquired by adopting Precision Livestock Farming practices and eliminating the fish escape problem. The technology under development is centered on an active multi-purpose capsule device, remotely controlled by a surveillance and control system placed on the fish pen.
AquaFarmControl is an integrated technological solution for complete biomass management for fish farming. Behind the project is a consortium made up of Innovative European SMEs and leading research and development centers. Data Respons R&D Services is contributing to this innovative project, through both research and development phases.
AquaFarmControl includes two main functions; breach control and biomass metrics. The systems on the pen are monitored and controlled remotely by a control center.
Breach control is based on triggering a capsule device to terminate the escaped fish. The capsule device will be injected into the fish as it is initially vaccinated. When a hydroacoustic link is broken, the device will terminate the fish. This means that the capsule will need to stay active during the whole salmon growth period of 26 months. In addition, the size of the capsule is restricted by maximum size of implant without surgery. This puts high demands on compact design of electronics and extreme demands on low power usage. Minimizing power consumption is absolutely central in all choices of components, acoustic data link protocol and efficiency of software running on the capsule controller.
The advanced biomass metrics system monitors the fish population inside the pens in real-time. The main goal of the bio¬mass estimation is to determine the fish weight distribution. The result is increased control of biomass development and target sales weight, providing significant operational benefits. In addition, it allows for accurate dosage of fish feeds and improves the overall cost efficiency of fish farming. Both hydroacoustic (low frequency resonant, tradi¬tional sonar, ultrasonic imaging sonar) and optical methods (stereo camera, time-of-flight cameras, laser based) are being evaluated as solutions for biomass measurement. Research is still ongoing to find the best method.
The system is scalable and designed for all possible size ranges of fish farming facilities. The unit placed on each fish pen includes a local area network connection to all units in the farm facility. Standard data connection between fish pen units is a wired connection. Each AquaFarmControl-installation store growth trends, size distribution, alarms and events during the full lifetime of the unit. All data on the pen unit is synchronized with a web service database.
The AquaFarmControl software package is planned to consist of the two main components; fish pen system software and the surveillance and control system. In addition, there will be a web service database containing all data from all fish farms.
The fish escape handling software is considered the most critical part of the pen system software. This is due to the potential catastrophic outcome of a system failure. This software handles control of the capsule through a communication protocol and the overall monitoring of capsule states at the pen.
The capsules implanted in the fish will also include a tiny receiver and signal processing software in an ultra-low power microcontroller. This software will determine if the fish is still in the fish pen, or if it has escaped. In the case of an escape, the capsule software will terminate the fish. The biomass estimation software will also alert the pen alarm system, which can notify the maintenance crew that a breach has been detected.
The biomass estimation is handled in a separate signal processing software, which calculates the biomass property based on measurement data. This system will also be responsible for uploading and synchronizing the measurement data to an external data center.
The fish farm surveillance software provides an overview of the farm status in relation to farm yield, fish growth rates and pending alarms. Farm data can be accessed through a web interface or locally on a farm through a local area network. This software handles all human interaction with the system.
Seafood Security AS is the project coordinator and instigator of the AquaFarmControl project. Seafood Security was founded in 2010, and its vision is to provide protection of aquatic biomass assets using sustainable “green” technology.
What happens when fish escape
The escape may lead to adverse environmental impacts, because farmed fish can cross with wild fish. It is uncertain how this will affect the wild fish populations, but it is known that escaped fish has a lower survival rate. In addition, the escaped fish can transmit diseases and parasites. A financial loss for the aquaculture business is also an effect of this escaped fish. There are several reasons for fish escaping from the plants; technical failure, misuse of equipment, vessels damaging the net and extreme weather that damage the facilities.
Data Respons’ role in the project
Data Respons R&D Specialist Services have high hopes for this project going forward through research to a development stage. We have been handed the assignment of developing an acoustic communication link to the capsule, the fish pen system that communicate with the capsule and the system on the fish pen that estimate biomass. The capsule electronics is developed by the consortium partner ACREO, electronics production by K314, and Data Respons is responsible for capsule embedded software.