How the right measurement technology can help Chile’s aquaculture industry fulfill its potential
Climate change is just one of the challenges that ports in Chile increasingly have to deal with, and an investment in the latest Doppler technology and online systems has proven to be a significant benefit for its ports. How can Chile’s aquaculture industry maximize this technology’s potential?
From the early 1990s to 2007, Chile’s aquaculture took off, and by 2006 it was producing 38 percent of the world’s salmon. Now, the country produces 1.4-1.5 million tons of salmon a year, putting it on a par with the world’s biggest producer, Norway. But there is still significant potential for Chile to run their aquaculture operations more efficiently and profitably.
“Doppler technology has already helped improve safety and efficiency in Chilean ports. Now, the country has the potential to improve the performance of its aquaculture by fully adopting Doppler technology,” said Christian Haag, managing director of oceanographic service provider Mariscope Ingenieria SPA in Chile, and a representative for Doppler technology provider Nortek in the Chilean market.
Why is measuring waves and currents with Doppler technology a key part of making aquaculture more efficient?
Reducing aquaculture food loss with up to 20 percent
Measuring waves and currents helps with issues such as calculating the most effective location of the cages’ moorings, the shape of those cages, and the position of floating barges. It also helps fish farmers economize on fish fodder.
“Typically, fishmeal is unnecessarily wasted during the feeding process, as currents draw the pellets through the cages’ netting. As an example, constant measuring giving real-time data can be supplied via Nortek’s Aquadopp current profiler and the Autonomous Online System (AOS), in addition to other sensors (for oxygen, salinity and temperature),” Haag explained.
Data from these systems inform when and from what position food can best be released, and where and when to position the cameras which reveal when the fish finished feeding.
Haag said Mariscope Ingenieria SPA has done a study that found that using Doppler technology and real-time data could reduce food loss by up to 20 percent – a big financial saving for any fish farming operator.
Lack of reliable data for informed decisions
At the moment, many aquaculture sites in Chile still rely on spot measurements, meaning that they really don’t have enough reliable data to make informed decisions, and guesswork comes into play.
The situation is somewhat different in Norway. The contrast between efficiency levels in Norway and Chile’s aquaculture can partly be put down to the widespread use of top-of-the-range technology. In Norway, many fish farmers have installed permanent measurement systems that supply constant, real-time data and allow for much more informed decisions to be made.
Nortek has supplied approximately 300 AOS (or Realfish) systems to Norway’s fish farming sites. The Nortek AOS system offers online access data on oxygen, salinity and temperature, as well as ocean currents and wave data from any coastal location.
“It does not require significant engineering resources and once deployed, the system will be up and running in a matter of minutes. It transmits data collected via satellite to a software developed specifically for the aquaculture industry,” Haag said.
This system generates daily reports so that fish farms can document that they operate according to standards set out by governmental organizations, or nongovernmental organizations such as the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC).
“As an example, there are least 100 ASC-certified fish farming sites in the Chile, most of which would instantly become more efficient by adopting the AOS system in combination with current profilers,” Haag said.