Overfishing, ever-increasing consumer demand, pollution/climate change, and a host of other factors are threatening the world’s seafood supply. One solution that has proven effective is aquaculture, or fish farming, although it is not without controversy. While farmed seafood from many (primarily western) countries is safe, stock from unregulated or poorly regulated countries has left consumers wondering if the non-wild fish they are eating is healthy. Lab testing and investigations have uncovered cancerous chemicals, as well as human and other animal waste, in the water. On top of that, some of the fish farms were engaged in activities considered illegal in most countries.
This is where IoT technology can offer tremendous benefits. It can optimize any aquaculture operation, plus ensure everything grown and harvested meets accepted standards.
How’s the water today?
Farmed fish and edible plants literally live or die based on water conditions. Water temperature, pH, and turbidity—along with dissolved oxygen, chlorophyll, ammonia, and other elements—can be monitored in real time to ensure an optimal environment. Any irregularities, including the presence of contaminants that can cause cancer, trigger alerts that can escalate if the system senses the stock’s wellbeing is threatened. Alert parameters can be based on the type of stock, desired growth environment, or ideal harvesting size, thereby eliminating potential threats before they can have a significant, and negative, impact. For example, a certain pH level may be acceptable to the fish but also encourages negative bacteria growth.
The system also can detect foreign objects or intruders the instant they enter the water, a feature especially valuable in open-air fisheries or those where the public is allowed. Sensors can be fine-tuned to ignore or discount things such as fallen leaves or twigs—while still archiving their presence—yet send notifications if even the smallest visitor might present a threat (such as an invasive insect). This sensitivity can tell if fish are ‘eating out’ by consuming fallen food not part of their regular (and often strict) diet, thereby affecting overall farming efforts. Each ‘invader’ is identified and its patterns tracked to ensure the safety of the stock and whether the operation needs adjustment to counter a new threat (such as a mass hatching of a certain insect species).
A great fish story
Monitoring the health of the stock can be equally precise with IoT. Besides the aforementioned detection efforts, sensors also can uncover diseases and similar issues in their early stages before they become widespread. Each fish’s behavior is monitored constantly for any aberrations that may constitute a problem, including continual matching of swim patterns with known standards for the species. This better enables managers to make alterations to the aquaculture in order to best duplicate real-world environments for optimal stock health. Fish numbers accurately are accounted for every minute, and alerts are sent if fish numbers drop due to death or even poaching.
With the granular insights of IoT, food is released into the water at optimal feeding times based on species type. Any leftovers are recorded and then the amounts correlated with historic data to discover the underlying reason(s). For example, the amount allocated may have been too large to begin with, or the fish may be reacting negatively to an undetected environmental condition. If some fish are growing faster than others and/or eating more of the food, the lesser fish can be quarantined and put on a special diet to enhance their growth rates. Unforeseen incompatible stock issues, such as those found when an existing ecosystem is replenished with new fish, can be detected early so as to prevent any injury or loss of life. Any number of experiments—from trying different food types to altering water mixtures—can be done on-the-fly with immediately trackable results. This can enhance both the quality of the stock and bottom line profits.
IoT optimizes every aspect of aquaculture, advances sustainability, and allows governments/local agencies to better monitor even the most remote fish farm to ensure healthy and edible stock is being raised. All of which makes aquaculture the ideal sub-niche for service providers.
To learn more about IoT and aquaculture, contact Neo today!