Smartphone technology to help fish health and welfare

Scottish salmon farmers will soon be able to spot harmful algal blooms heading towards their fish farms by using a smartphone app.

The app will use remote sensing technology to detect the harmful blooms as well as providing real-time information to predict how they might spread and develop. Algal blooms are harmful to fish because they reduce the oxygen supply in the water and can potentially cause the fish to suffocate.

“Being able to access this information on a 24-hour basis is a real benefit to fish health and welfare. It allows salmon farmers the chance to stop feeding and change operations like harvesting and stock movements to keep fish safe ” said Jamie Smith, technical executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation, which helped support the research into the new technology.

The system was trialled by Marine Harvest in Argyll who are enthusiastic about the importance of the new technology.

Dave Cockerill, Head of Fish Health at Marine Harvest, said:

“These alerts could be the first indicator of an unseen bloom heading our way, literally a life-saving science.”

The app is expected to be available to Scottish salmon farmers early next year.

The international research project, which also involved seaweed and mussel farmers from Denmark, Portugal and the Netherlands, is part of the EU-funded Aqua-Users project.