Unlike conventional in-pen graders, which can only separate the fish based on their size the BioSort machine is designed to sort and separate individual fish, based on specific characteristics, allowing for customised follow-up by farmers.
The device has now been tested on Cermaq’s iFarm, which is a collaboration between the technology company BioSort and salmon farmer 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,” said Cermaq in a press release.
“Seeing the difference between fish is crucial for improving fish health and welfare in the net pens and will be a big step forward for increased survival in salmon farming,” the company added.
"To my knowledge, no one has previously sorted swimming fish in a net pen before, so this is a big step towards individual-based handling of fish," said Geir Stang Hauge, managing director of BioSort.
BioSort has been working on the development of the sorter for two years. The iFarm sorter, which is controlled by a number of underwater electric motors, has first been tested in BioSort's lab and pool at their offices in Oslo, then in the sea outside Oslo, before it was installed and tested in net pens at Cermaq's sea site in Vesterålen in Northern Norway.
"The purpose of this first test was to show that the sorter actually manages to sort swimming fish in a net pen, and it worked as we hoped, so it was a successful test," said 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, the work will be intensified. The development team takes the learnings from this test to the development of the next generation prototype of the sorter that will be able to function under even more conditions," said Hauge.