“This is a historic day”: First fish farmers celebrate dispensation meaning they can operate using only automatic lice counting

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Using tech from Aquabyte, no more manual counting for Kvarøy Fiskeoppdrett and Seløy Sjøfarm. This will pave way for other salmon farmers to massively reduce fish handling.

In a press release, Aquabyte writes that its fish farming customers Kvarøy Fiskeoppdrett and Seløy Sjøfarm are the first fish farmers ever to receive dispensation to operate one of their facilities using automatic lice counting alone.

Machine-learner: AquaBytes founder, Bryton Shang. His company has offices in San Francisco, California, and Bergen, Norway. PHOTO: Aslak Berge

Counting takes place on a continuous basis with Aquabyte’s lice counting system. That means not having to take fish out of the cage every week for manual counting and thus makes it possible to optimise operations and improve fish welfare.

The technology company, Aquabyte, has had success with its machine learning technology for automatic lice counting implemented with the help of a camera setup. So far, however, customers have been faced with the challenge of also having to count salmon lice manually in accordance with the Norwegian Lice Regulations.

Hans Runshaug. PHOTO: Aquabyte

“It is a long-awaited decision that the Norwegian Food Safety Authority has now granted a dispensation to count salmon lice automatically. Our experience is that the Aquabyte system gives us reliable data, not just once a week – but continuously. The decision means that we can redirect the resources we used for manual counting to other tasks”, said Håvard Olsen at Kvarøy Fiskeoppdrett.

“For us at Seløy Sjøfarm, taking measures against salmon lice at an early stage is crucial to be able to farm in a responsible manner. The best possible quality of the data is therefore of paramount importance – and will contribute to better fish welfare by enabling us to time the measures to a greater extent. Being able to get the data continuously regardless of weather and wind has been a dream for several years and this technology will hopefully give us this and more,” commented Jan Erik Jakobsen at Seløy Sjøfarm.

Production manager Håvard Olsen (left) and CEO Alf Gøran Knutsen at Kvarøy Fiskeoppdrett. PHOTO: Rune Nilsen/TV 2 (With permission)

Aquabyte has customers along the entire coast of Norway. Customers can now all apply for dispensation from manual lice counting, just as Kvarøy Fiskeoppdrett and Seløy Sjøfarm have done.

“This is a historic day for machine learning and the automation of aquaculture processes. It is also a good day for fish welfare, as it will mean a major reduction in fish handling. And we will have even more to do, as we want to help all our customers apply for dispensation,” said Hans Runshaug at Aquabyte.

“We have prepared a full documentation package and process that meets the Norwegian Food Safety Authority’s guidelines and requirements. All of us at Aquabyte are happy and proud to have the first approved system for automatic lice counting,” he added.