Aquaculture for all

New tool promised to tackle HABs in aquaculture

Salmonids Marine fish Harmful algal blooms +7 more

A system that gives fish farmers advanced warning of harmful algal blooms (HABs) is due to be commercially available within 18 months.

HABs cause billions of dollars of damage to the aquaculture sector each year


The news was announced this week following a decision by OTAQ to invest $300,000 in Blue Lion Labs, a Canadian data management and software company developing solutions to multiple water-quality challenges, including real time monitoring of harmful organisms in water to deliver more sustainable food sources.

Following completion of the Investment, OTAQ will hold a beneficial interest in approximately 10 percent of Blue Lion's issued ordinary share capital. In addition, the companies have signed cooperation and licensing agreements which will ultimately allow OTAQ to incorporate Blue Lion's specialty in artificial intelligence (AI) technology to analyse plankton monitoring data at fish farms. Importantly, this will build on and accelerate the development of OTAQ’s plankton/algae bloom early detection system, with a view to achieving commercialisation within the next 18 months. As part of the agreement, OTAQ's CEO, Phil Newby, will take a seat on the board of Blue Lion and will help to support its growth.

It is estimated that the global aquaculture industry suffers $3.4 billion in damage and losses annually due to harmful organisms. The collaboration is focused on addressing this by creating a solution that will combine OTAQ's hardware expertise and Blue Lion's software expertise to identify harmful levels of phytoplankton by providing real-time information to finfish farmers to allow them to improve welfare and reduce losses.

Phil Newby, chief executive of OTAQ, commented: "We are delighted to be collaborating with Blue Lion. They have an established AI platform and deep experience of its application in this important area that further enhances our ability to deliver a rounded product ahead of schedule. They are a dynamic team and we very much look forward to working together on innovative projects which will add vital new management tools for our clients to improve the welfare and productivity of their stock."

Dr Jason Deglint, CEO of Blue Lion, added: "The team at Blue Lion Labs is very excited to partner with OTAQ. This Investment and collaboration helps us in executing on our mission to develop innovative solutions to global water-quality issues. Combining our AI technology with OTAQ's hardware platform and distribution infrastructure will provide both companies with an accelerated path to market."

Blue Lion was established in 2018 by Drs Jason Deglint and Katie Thomas, alumni of the University of Waterloo, Canada, with expertise in machine learning and AI, and aquatic biology, respectively. Blue Lion already has the support of incubator and mentorship programmes including Hatch, the Ocean Startup Challenge and NEXT Canada.

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