AI-powered fish monitoring technology to get US$4.1 million investment

Photo: OptoScale

Norwegian technology start-up OptoScale has raised US$4.1 million to scale up use of its proprietary real-time fish farm monitoring technology into major exporting countries.

The company, which already works in Norway, Scotland and Canada, said it will push further into these markets and also expand into Iceland, Chile, and Australia.

The data – which include accurate and real time average weight as well as detection of welfare issues like wounds, deformations and lice – will help producers optimise the 18-month production cycle including, among others, fish growth, feed utilisation, and treatments.

“Aquaculture being a relatively young sector makes it ripe for innovation,” said Sven Jørund Kolstø, CEO of OptoScale. “Before, farmers would have to get in boats once a week or month and manually assess a small selection of fish by hand. Not only is this labourious and stressful for the fish, it is also quite imprecise.”

Mr Kolstø added that the company aims to have installed 2,000 units in use with customers by 2027.

Using artificial intelligence and machine learning, OptoScale’s technology means that producers can now assess up to 200,000 fish each day compared to around 50 to 100 fish using conventional approaches. An underwater camera is submerged in each pen and sends real-time measurements guaranteed to be accurate within three per cent on a daily basis.

“In the future, fish farmers will need to spend virtually no time trying to understand what is going on in the fish pens in the water,” said Ragnhild Hollup, CTO of OptoScale. “All of the data they need will be at their fingertips.”

With this information, fish farmers can improve the feed conversion ratio and avoid overfeeding, which is commonly estimated at around 10 to 15 per cent by the industry itself. Accurate feeding can reduce water pollution and also translate into a drop in greenhouse gas emissions from production equal to the average pollution from 100,000 cars per year.

The technology also allows for fish farmers to respond to animal welfare issues rapidly and in more targeted ways. Detecting diseases early helps ensure fish are not wasted and can grow to full maturity before being harvested.
Automated detection of lice in particular helps avoid manual inspections out of water, which can damage fish health.

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