Aquaculture Water Treatment

This week we report about three innovations relating to aquaculture water treatment which have the potential to improve productivity significantly.
Salmon farm
30 March, 2023
By Bert Popping

We previously reported about innovations of recirculating aquaculture systems reducing wastewater production. However, aquaculture operations’ productivity also depends to a large extent on the maintenance of high water quality. Poor water quality can lead to decreased growth, increased disease incidence, and even mortality in fish. To maintain optimal water quality, water treatment technologies must be used to effectively remove pollutants, pathogens, and other contaminants from the water. In this context, advances in water treatment technologies are crucial to ensure the sustainability and profitability of the aquaculture industry. In this article, we will discuss three innovative water treatment technologies that are transforming the aquaculture industry.

A Norwegian company has developed an electrochemical water treatment system that eliminates off-flavours in trout by decomposing 2-Methylisoborneol (MIB) and geosmin. These compounds are responsible for unsavoury tastes and odours in fish and are traditionally removed through a purging process that requires vast amounts of water exchange and results in a 5% loss in fish weight. The technology eliminates MIB and geosmin in less than 10 days while continuously feeding the fish, resulting in a healthier year-round harvest of fish. This system is highly sustainable, with a small carbon footprint, and requires less space and energy, resulting in significant savings.

A Singapore-based water technology company has created a microbiome field testing kit that enables farmers to take water samples and send them to the company’s lab for next-generation sequencing and in-depth analysis. However, these days also onsite solutions, e.g. Minion, are available to get an instant result. The technology provides detailed insights at the species level, enabling farmers to see exactly what is happening with their water, identify potential risks, and optimise probiotics. Microbiome analytics are particularly well suited for closed systems where water is prone to pathogen build-up and water quality issues.

Another Norwegian company in Trondheim has been granted a patent for its autonomous fish farm cleaning system, which is capable of cleaning both land-based and traditional net pen operations. An autonomous vehicle cleans aquaculture nets safely and efficiently, using advanced robotics and artificial intelligence. Real-world tests have been conducted over the past eight months in partnership with one of the larger aquaculture farms. The system has been improved to ensure it can withstand harsh conditions over time. This technology can increase the productivity of fish farms while minimising their environmental impacts.

It is very obvious that the industry is changing from traditional farming to high-tech systems deploying AI-supported tools. To be able to operate these tools, different skills from the traditional aquaculture industry are needed. And here, the EIT Food-funded AGAPE project aims to make a difference by providing AI-driven recommendations for upskilling and reskilling to adapt the workforce’s skills to the aquaculture industry’s changing needs.

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