Fu­tur­is­tic iFarm will strengthen coastal farm­ing tra­di­tion

Fish Farmer - - News World -

IN­DI­VID­U­ALISED fish farm­ing will move a step closer in 2020 as Nor­we­gian pro­ducer Cer­maq plans a Jan­uary launch for its iFarm project.

The com­pany, which last year won four li­cences from the

Nor­we­gian Direc­torate of Fish­eries, said the first trans­fer of fish to sea is planned for au­tumn next year.

Although the four per­mits will not en­able com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion on the scale Cer­maq in­tended, the farmer hopes its fu­tur­is­tic con­cept will strengthen farm­ing in tra­di­tional coastal ar­eas.

Cer­maq and BioSort, the tech­nol­ogy spe­cial­ist be­hind the iFarm, along with the Direc­torate of Fish­eries, have clar­i­fied how the project can be scaled to four de­vel­op­ment li­cences.

Cer­maq fish health man­ager Karl Fredrik Ot­tem, who will lead the iFarm project, said: ‘The goal of the project is to de­velop pro­to­types with the cen­tral func­tions of iFarm to clar­ify whether it is tech­no­log­i­cally pos­si­ble to op­er­ate in­di­vid­ual sal­mon farm­ing in net pens in the sea.

‘An im­por­tant part of the iFarm project is to doc­u­ment how the fish’s be­hav­iour and wel­fare will in­ter­act with the new tech­no­log­i­cal so­lu­tions and func­tion­al­i­ties.’

iFarm, to be launched in Steigen, Nord­land county, is based on im­age recog­ni­tion and iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of each in­di­vid­ual sal­mon.

It means that a fish with, for ex­am­ple, sea lice, can be taken aside for treat­ment, and the need to han­dle all fish in the pen is sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced, thus im­prov­ing fish health and wel­fare.

BioSort has al­ready con­ducted sev­eral tests of the iFarm at the In­sti­tute of Marine Re­search in

Ma­tre.

Geir Stang Hauge, CEO of BioSort, said: ‘The key in iFarm is that we mon­i­tor each sal­mon us­ing ma­chine vi­sion, es­tab­lish­ing a health record for each in­di­vid­ual, and can sort aside the fish that need fol­low up.

‘This will be use­ful not only for farm­ers, but also for au­thor­i­ties and con­sumers. We are look­ing for­ward to get­ting started, and sev­eral new po­si­tions will now be filled.’

Cer­maq is in­vest­ing NOK 580 mil­lion in the iFarm, and es­ti­mates that it will cre­ate 17 po­si­tions in the com­pany over the six-year trial pe­riod.

Cer­maq’s re­gional di­rec­tor, Snorre Jonassen, who has been cen­tral to the de­sign of the project, said: ‘iFarm is be­ing de­vel­oped lo­cally, we will de­velop the ac­tual con­struc­tion in the net pen and ma­chine learn­ing here. This is a great build-up for Cer­maq in Nord­land and for the en­tire aqua­cul­ture in­dus­try.’

The sal­mon farmer, which is owned by Mit­subishi and also op­er­ates in Canada and Chile, said the de­vel­op­ment of iFarm was ‘a unique op­por­tu­nity’ for equip­ment sup­pli­ers too.

And, if suc­cess­ful, the project would help Nor­way utilise its nat­u­ral ad­van­tages for sal­mon pro­duc­tion in in­shore wa­ters.

Above: iFarm mon­i­tors each sal­mon

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