Salmon farmer opts for facial-recognition technology to boost productivity
Salmon farmer Cermaq Group AS intends to use innovative new facial-recognition technology to store Atlantic salmon’s faces in digital databases to track their health and single out those posing threats to their marine surroundings.
This revolutionary system consists of a 3D scanner that can tell salmon apart based on the distinct pattern of spots around their eyes, mouth and gills, at salmon pens along Norway’s fjord-etched coastline, betting it can prevent the spread of epidemics like sea lice that infect hundreds of millions of farmed fish and cost the global industry upwards of USD 1 billion each year, BloombergBusinessweek reported.
“We can build a medical record for each individual fish,” said Harald Takle, the head researcher at Cermaq, one of the partners testing the system behind the iFarm design with its Norwegian technology partner BioSort AS.
Multinational agribusiness firm Cargill this year announced it is working to implement facial-recognition technology to monitor cattle in order to improve production. And it was reported by Bloomberg, the group wants to apply facial recognition to aqua farms.
The new technology developers explain that iFarms would be equipped with camera scanners at the water surface. On any given day, about 40,000 salmon in each pen will rise to above water for a gulp of air, something their bladders need to regulate buoyancy.
Each time a salmon does this, typically every four days, it would go through a funnel fitted with sensors that would screen its face and body so records can be kept on each fish. If the machines pick up on abnormalities like lice or skin ulcers, the infected fish can be quarantined for medical treatment.
“Only the fish that actually need it will be sorted out for treatment, which means typically 5 to 20 percent,” said Geir Stang Hauge, one of the inventors of the software and chief executive officer of start-up BioSort, based in Langhus, south of Oslo.
“This avoids stressful treatment for all the healthy fish,” he adds.
Hauge estimates that detecting diseases early could cut mortality by 50 to 75 per cent, which would be transformative for countries from Chile to Norway that have seen lice infestations impair salmon populations in recent years.