Editorial: On the right track
January 6, 2021
By Liza Mayer
Just as the aquaculture industry is evolving, so are we. Welcome to our compact new format, a change that not only delivers newsprint savings but also improves our publication’s portability and our environmental sustainability.
It is the same commitment to sustainable practices that I have seen the farmed seafood industry embrace over the last several years. Since becoming editor of Aquaculture North America five years ago, I’ve witnessed the industry adopt technology and innovation to improve fish welfare, farming efficiency and profitability. But never have I heard the terms artificial intelligence, machine learning and computer vision in the aquaculture space more than in the last two years. Change is happening. Automation is the way forward. Data is king.
As our story, “Taking fish farming to the next level” points out, the automation of a number of labour-intensive farming processes have allowed fish farm staff to enhance focus on the fish. This past December, Norway allowed two salmon farmers to count sea lice using AI-driven camera technology. This means less handling of the fish, so one can just imagine how much this improves their wellbeing. While Norway exempted only two farmers from the rule, the landmark decision signals a sea change taking place.
In British Columbia, Fisheries and Oceans Canada requires salmon farms to monitor sea lice at least once a month during the non-migration period and at least twice a month during the pre-migration and outmigration periods using “proper counting techniques,” which means manually, for now. But as the technology matures, automated counting will likely become accepted by fish farming authorities and become an indispensable part of the industry’s toolbox.
In the US, younger consumers want an increased connection between farmers and technology, as we reported in our previous issue. Cargill’s Feed4Thought survey showed consumers would like to see farmers prioritize technology that improves animal health and wellbeing and improve overall food safety. Some exciting, potentially transformative technology as well as expert insights within these pages will show that the industry is on the right track. You know better what technology would work best in your farm, but I hope you find something here that will interest and inspire you.
Happy New Year!
- B.C. salmon farmers, local officials rally against salmon farms’ closure
- Five trends driving interest in open ocean aquaculture