How Five Atlantic Canadian Companies Hope To Transform Aquaculture In The Region


A group of Atlantic Canadian companies has come together for a project they say will transform the region’s aquaculture industry.

Grieg Seafood Newfoundland, along with SubC Imaging, AKVA Group, High-Tech Communications, and Halifax’s Innovasea, are bringing together an array of technologies to create a super-connected fish farm driven by innovative new forms of data collection.

They’re calling it the Integrated Operations and Real-Time Analytics Project, and say it will transform how farm operators care for their fish, their infrastructure, and the environment.

The $27-million project will be developed with the help of a $12-million contribution from the federal government, through Canada’s Ocean Supercluster Initiative.

The project is based in Newfoundland on what will eventually be a fish farm operated by Grieg Seafood, in Placentia Bay.

It will see a network of sensors, underwater cameras, and alert systems set up to form an integrated system that allows farm operators to better collect and analyze data about their operation.

The array of sensors and cameras will allow farm operators to live-stream video from their enclosures, monitor underwater nets for holes or other damage, and keep tabs on things like changing water temperature.

It will even employ technology that lets farm operators remotely feed their fish.

Tim Stone of Innovasea explains that, while much of this technology already exists in other parts of the world, the Integrated Operations and Real-Time Analytics Project will bring it together in ways that haven’t been seen before.

“We’re not talking about making incremental improvements to technology, we’re talking about actually changing the way people do things,” he says.

Innovasea’s technology, for example, will allow farm operators to draw on machine learning to detect how hungry their fish are. Specially designed cameras will measure the biomass of the animals, and monitor how much of their food is going uneaten.

“These are major changes in the way people do aquaculture,” Stone said.

Perry Power with Grieg Seafood says this kind of comprehensive analytical approach is a “significant step for the aquaculture industry in Atlantic Canada.”

He says the project will allow Grieg to practice “precise farming” that uses “big data to make wise decisions around fish welfare, around caretaking for the environment.”

To make all of this happen, the project partners plan to build a series of microwave towers that will create a “high-speed web” to beam real-time data from the network to shore.

Power says all the data collected from Placentia Bay will also be live-streamed and made available to anyone who wants it.

According to Canada’s Ocean Supercluster, the project will create 138 jobs, including 20 at the project’s implementation.