Cermaq’s salmon facial recognition project to be launched in January

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“This is the best Christmas present we could get’. iFarm monitors each salmon using machine vision, establishing a health record for each individual, and can sort aside the fish that needs follow up.

In a press release on Monday, Cermaq writes that its iFarm project has been scaled to the approval for four licenses, and will be launched in Steigen, Northern Norway, in January.

The first transfer of fish to the sea is planned for autumn 2020.

iFarm is based on image recognition and identification of each individual salmon and individual follow-up of each fish, e.g. a fish with sea lice can be sorted aside for treatment. At the same time, the need to handle the fish is significantly reduced.

iFarm
“This is the best Christmas present we could get,” says the euphoric and happy Fish Health Manager in Cermaq Karl Fredrik Ottem, who will lead the iFarm project.

Cermaq, BioSort and the Directorate of Fisheries have clarified how the project can be scaled to four development licenses. It also means that the project will not progress as far toward commercial testing as originally planned.

“The goal of the project is to develop prototypes with the central functions of iFarm to clarify whether it is technologically possible to operate individual salmon farming in net pens in the sea. An important part of the iFarm project is to document how the fish’s behaviour and welfare will interact with the new technological solutions and functionalities”, said Karl Fredrik Ottem.

Machine vision
BioSort, the company which develops the sensor-based solutions in iFarm, has already conducted several tests at the Institute of Marine Research at their research centre.

“The key in iFarm is that we monitor each salmon using machine vision, establishing a health record for each individual, and can sort aside the fish that needs follow up. This will be useful not only for farmers, but also for authorities and consumers. We are looking forward to getting started, and several new positions will now be filled”, said BioSort CEO Geir Stang Hauge.

“Individualised farming, which is at the heart of iFarm, truly addresses animal welfare. If successful, this could have a great potential for the authorities if the administrations will have access to real-time information about, e.g. biomass, lice situation and disease conditions at each sea site”, says Chief Veterinary Officer Kristina Landsverk in the Norwegian Food Safety Authority

EUR 58 million
Cermaq is investing EUR 58 million in iFarm. According to the plan, the first salmon will be transferred in the autumn of 2020 to a sea site in Steigen municipality where the first stage of iFarm will be installed.

Cermaq said that the development of iFarm is “an unique opportunity for suppliers of equipment to take part in an exciting and high-tech development project in Norway”.

“The iFarm project is a big boost for the region. We estimate that this will mean 17 positions only in Cermaq during the up till 6-year project period. iFarm is being developed locally, we will develop the actual construction in the net pen and machine learning here. This is a great build-up for Cermaq in Nordland and for the entire aquaculture industry”, said Cermaq’s regional director Snorre Jonassen, who has been central to the design of the iFarm project.