Aquaculture for all

Consigning manual lice counting to history?

Atlantic Salmon Sea lice Technology & equipment +6 more

Manual counting of sea lice – an activity that is stressful for fish, time-consuming for farmers and statistically questionable – is no longer mandatory on all salmon farms in Norway, following a landmark ruling.

The Norwegian authorities have permitted two salmon farming companies to stop manual weekly sea lice counts, a resounding endorsement of Aquabyte's automatic lice counter

© Aquabyte

Kvarøy Fiskeoppdrett and Seløy Sjøfarm have received dispensation for automatic lice counting from the Norwegian Food Safety Authority – a huge boost both to the farmers and to Aquabyte, the company that provides them with automatic lice counters.

They are the first fish farmers ever to receive dispensation to operate one of their facilities using automatic lice counting alone. 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.

Aquabyte has had success with its machine learning technology for automatic lice counting implemented with the help of a robust 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 regulations.

“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,” says Håvard Olsen from 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,” comments Jan Erik Jakobsen from Seløy Sjøfarm.

All Aquabyte's customers in Norway can now all apply for dispensation from manual lice counting.

“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, says Hans Runshaug from 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.”

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