The members of the companies BioSort and Cermaq had reported that, for the very first time, they have tested a sorting mechanism that will sort the fish in a net pen to provide customized follow-up for the fish. The iFarm project is a collaboration between the technology company BioSort and salmon farmer Cermaq, with ScaleAQ as the main supplier of the farming equipment in the project.

The goal of iFarm is to improve fish health and fish welfare through artificial intelligence and machine learning. An important step on the way is to be able to sort out fish that need adapted follow-up. “Seeing the difference between fish is crucial for improving fish health and welfare in the net pens and will be a big step forward for increased survival in salmon farming,” they say.

BioSort has been working on the development of the sorter for two years. iFarm, which is controlled by a number of underwater electric motors, has first been tested in BioSort’s lab and pool at their offices in Oslo, then in the sea outside the city, before it was installed and tested in net pens at Cermaq’s sea site in Vesterålen in Northern Norway.

“The purpose of this first test was to show that the sorter actually manages to sort swimming fish in a net pen, and it worked as we hoped, so it was a successful test,” says Geir Stang Hauge, Managing Director of BioSort.

Better fish health in the net pen

BioSort has developed a so-called sorter – a machine that will be able to sort and separate individual fish based on specific characteristics of the fish, using machine learning and artificial intelligence. The goal of sorting is to be able to take out fish that need adapted follow-up, and in that way ensure better fish health for the fish in the net pen.

“To my knowledge, no one has previously sorted swimming fish in a net pen before, so this is a big step towards individual-based handling of fish,” says the Managing Director of BioSort.

The goal is for it to be autonomous

Currently, the sorter is controlled manually, but the goal is for it to be autonomous so that it, together with the sensor system in iFarm, can make its own decisions based on defined criteria. However, it is a complicated and extensive development that will take time.

“Now that we have shown that it is possible to sort out swimming fish, the work will be intensified. The development team takes the learnings from this test to the development of the next generation prototype of the sorter that will be able to function under even more conditions”, says Hauge.

The companies

It’s important to say that Cermaq is a leading global salmon producer driving transition of the food system towards healthier and more climate-friendly food. Their approach, they say, is transparency, performance, and partnerships, setting ambitious climate goals, innovation for clean farming, and scaling impact and ripple effects through local and global partnerships.

The company, that has farming operations in Canada, Chile and Norway and also a sales office in Miami (United States), is built on a common strategy and company culture, and reinforced by local management and a lean head office.

BioSort, in the other hand, was founded with the mission of create sensor-based solutions for optimization of fish resources. They want to replace manual inspection and sampling by automated processes and monitoring derived from modern production processes. “Our solutions will manage fish on an individual level, creating value and increased sustainability through increased fish welfare and higher production yield,” they assure.

Finally, ScaleAQ is an international company within aquaculture. They provide innovation, technology and equipment to customers globally. In that sense, the affirm: “We are proud to employ 900 of the most competent, solid and innovative brains within aquaculture. Solid people make solid sustainable business, for our customers and for ScaleAQ.”

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