New mechanism sorts fish while they swim in the cage

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BioSort and Cermaq have for the first time tested a sorting mechanism that will sort the fish in the cage in order to provide customized follow-up. Seeing the difference between fish is crucial for improving fish health and welfare in the cage and will be a big step forward for increased survival.

The iFarm project is a collaboration between the technology company BioSort and salmon farming company 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.

For this, 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 cage.

“To my knowledge, no one has previously sorted swimming fish in a cage, so this is a big step towards individual-based handling of fish,” Geir Stang Hauge, general manager of BioSort, said in a statement.

BioSort has been working on the development of this variety for two years. The iFarm sorter, which is controlled by many electric motors underwater, has first been tested in BioSort’s lab and pool before it was sent north and installed and tested in cages at one of Cermaq’s sea sites.

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

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, we take the development to the next step,” Hauge says. “The development team takes the learning from this test with us when we develop the next generation prototype of the sorter that will be able to function under even more conditions.”