We have all heard of precision agriculture. Our aim is to build precision aquaculture. Reef Support is an online monitoring and predictive maintenance tool that uses artificial intelligence and satellite imagery for aquaculture management.
“If we get it right, the seas and oceans can help feed the world and offset the growing pressure on farmland. If we get it wrong, it could spell disaster for the environment,” says Slaughter.
With predictions suggesting that its fisheries will see a 25 percent drop in productivity by 2050, and with this decline in catches being exacerbated by a shifting climate, there’s a very real possibility that food shortages and public health crises will become a reality for Palau over the coming decades. Already, on an island where fish has historically provided the main dietary source of protein, highly processed foodstuffs like canned meat are increasingly top of many people’s shopping lists. This is creating predictably grim repercussions for public health, which could only accelerate as supplies of locally caught wild fish continue to dwindle.
Applying ecological and biophysical modelling methodologies, we’ll ensure sites are appropriate for candidate aquaculture species and are as “future-proof” and resilient as possible to emerging, climate-driven threats. Critical to these analyses will be remotely sensed data provided by satellites, which include bathymetry, chlorophyll and sea-surface temperature.
According to Slaughter, the space and satellite sector could help Scotland meet its target of doubling the value of its aquaculture industry to £3.6 billion by 2030. Improved forecasting and monitoring data from satellites and communications technology can help fish farms prepare for potential problems such as algae blooms and minimise environmental damage caused by farmed fish stocks. “It is not simply about opening more fish farms, but making them more efficient through better husbandry. Satellite predictions of weather patterns and sea temperatures help fish farmers to plan, while communications technology can improve connectivity, which is a major problem in remote areas, inshore and offshore. “The people working in aquaculture are scientists who care deeply about animal welfare and the environment and with the support from their colleagues in the space and satellite sector we can help them make the most of technologies that can transform their industry,” he says.
Improving data availability has clear benefits to certification programs, feed & equipment providers, and seafood processors. Therefore we believe that farmers should be rewarded for their transparency when sharing information. We are investigating ways to provide incentives, which could be in the form of feed discounts, real time production insights, or cash provided by a sponsoring foundation. We acknowledge that we need to speak with more farmers to understand their needs and call upon our network to aid us in this effort.