Navigating the Future of Aquaculture: A Case Study with Tassal
Aquaculture, the practice of farming fish in controlled environments, holds great promise in addressing the growing demand for seafood while alleviating the strain on wild fish populations. However, aquaculture companies often find themselves at a crossroads between economic viability and environmental responsibility.
Tassal, a prominent player in Australia’s aquaculture industry, has embarked on a transformative journey to leverage Advanced Navigation’s micro-autonomous underwater vehicle (micro-AUV), Hydrus, as a data collection tool. By integrating Hydrus into their operations, Tassal aims to not only streamline their seabed monitoring process but also usher in a new era of enhanced environmental stewardship.
Beneath the Surface: Aquaculture’s Environmental Challenge Down Under
Despite its benefits — including increased seafood production, reduced pressure on wild fisheries, economic opportunities for communities, and the provision of a stable source of essential nutrients — aquaculture faces a fair share of environmental challenges. Overcrowded fish pens, waste buildup, disease outbreaks, and habitat degradation all pose significant threats to seabed health and overall marine ecosystem integrity.
For this reason, the aquaculture industry must adhere to regulations set out by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), such as a mandate to routinely monitor and maintain the health of seabeds beneath fish pens. This is done through a method known as benthic surveys, a scientific assessment designed to gather information about the organisms, sediments, and physical characteristics of the seabed.
To date, Tassal has employed tethered remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to carry out benthic sampling. This approach typically involves manual labor and expensive equipment, and has proven to be cost-prohibitive. Furthermore, the method often yields sporadic data, making it difficult to detect and address issues in a timely manner.
Fishing for Solutions: How Hydrus is Revolutionising Aquaculture
These challenges will soon be a relic of the past thanks to micro-AUVs, such as Hydrus, a pioneer marine technology that is changing the game for aquaculture operations. Engineered with precision and innovation, this underwater robot offers aquaculture companies a cost-effective and sustainable solution to monitor seabed health.
Here are three compelling examples from our new partnership with Tassal, which demonstrate just how Hydrus is transforming the aquaculture landscape:
- Hydrus is providing Tassal with enhanced imagery data: Unlike Tassal’s previous use of a tethered ROV, which required tilting its camera away from the seabed for simultaneous piloting and data collection, Hydrus, being fully autonomous, can position its 4K camera directly at the seabed. This captures flat, undistorted images ideal for creating a mosaic of the entire survey area. This mosaic effectively represents a digital twin of the seabed, enabling spatial and temporal analysis of changes in seabed composition over time.
- Hydrus is improving efficiency of Tassal’s operations: Hydrus autonomously records time and location data, eliminating the need for manual data input. Tassal can also create a catalog of preset missions for Hydrus, removing the necessity for specialised ROV pilots. Anyone at the pens can simply select a mission for Hydrus to run on independently, freeing up personnel for other tasks and optimising resource utilisation. Furthermore, the data collected by Hydrus on each mission can be reviewed directly on the boat immediately after recovery.
- Hydrus empowers Tassal to conduct benthic surveys independently and cost-effectively: By eliminating the need for specialised experts and ROV equipment, Tassal now owns the Hydrus vehicles and can use them as often as desired. This capability allows Tassal’s environmental team to more effectively investigate the seabed for anomalies and track spatial and temporal changes.
In summary, Hydrus is not just a game-changer; it’s a transformative force in the aquaculture industry, offering advanced capabilities, improved efficiency, and unprecedented independence to aquaculture operations like Tassal.
A Win-Win Solution: Hydrus Offers Benefits for Tassal and the Environment
The advantages that Hydrus can bring to the aquaculture industry will not only benefit the companies operating in the field, but they also translate into direct benefits for the environment. This can be accomplished through the following ways:
- High-Frequency Data Collection: Hydrus operates continuously, and as such, this high-frequency monitoring enables aquaculture companies to detect issues promptly, enhancing Tassal’s ability to protect their fish and the environment.
- Improved Data Quality: Hydrus offers precise and consistent data collection, reducing the risk of human error. This accuracy enhances the quality of information used by Tassal’s decision-makers, ultimately benefiting both their business operations and their environmental stewardship.
- Environmental Protection: By aiding in proactive seabed monitoring, Hydrus is helping Tassal reduce its environmental footprint. This contributes to the broader goals of preserving marine ecosystems and adhering to regulatory standards.
Operating right out of the box, Hydrus requires minimal setup, and its automated operation minimises the need for constant human presence and expensive equipment, significantly lowering the cost to carry out benthic surveys. This translates into a “win-win” solution for both Tassal and the environment.
The data sample shown above was obtained from a location outside of Tassal Group for illustrative purposes.
Charting the Course: Environmental and Economic Convergence in Aquaculture
It is essential to acknowledge that aquaculture companies often operate within the constraints of a competitive market and regulatory thresholds. While their primary goal is to remain economically viable, many are keen to improve their environmental practices. Hydrus offers a path toward achieving this balance.
Tassal’s collaboration with Advanced Navigation underscores the notion that, in the realm of aquaculture, it is indeed possible for all stakeholders to emerge as winners. The use of micro-AUVs empowers companies to monitor seabed health more effectively, which both enhances their operations and provides richer environmental data, all at a lower cost. By striking this balance, aquaculture businesses can thrive, regulators can be satisfied, and our oceans can remain healthy for generations to come.
Hydrus takes the drone revolution underwater with the most
advanced sonar, navigation and communications systems of any
subsea vehicle. It contains a DVL, USBL, INS, acoustic and optical
modems, all tightly integrated. This enables highly reliable, fully
autonomous underwater missions at your fingertips. It also provides
obstacle detection and collision avoidance.