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Intelligent Fish feeding through Integration of ENabling technologies and Circular principle

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - iFishIENCi (Intelligent Fish feeding through Integration of ENabling technologies and Circular principle)

Reporting period: 2018-11-01 to 2020-04-30

The iFishIENCi H2020 project is using advanced digital technology to support the sustainable development of European aquaculture. Improving the efficiency of fish farming methods, and especially those used for feeding, can achieve greater profitability and sustainability of the way we grow fish. This is important because fish are an essential part of a healthy diet, and much of the fish we eat comes from fish farming. As the world’s population grows, so does the demand for fish, and to avoid depleting wild stocks, we need profitable, sustainable aquaculture. iFishIENCi innovations will create new global markets and value chains by integrating Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) based solutions with aquaculture. This will support sustainable, socially acceptable expansion of European aquaculture, providing employment and alleviating Europe’s dependency on imported fish.
Aquaculture depends upon good farming conditions for efficient growth of healthy fish. For this reason, iFishIENCi is developing iBOSS: a combination of digital sensors, cameras, and automatic equipment for continuous monitoring and adjustment of all aspects of the cultivation environment, including fish behaviour. iBOSS will feature artificial intelligence for exploring relationships between water quality, and fish behaviour, health, diet, and growth. Fast growing healthy fish require a high-quality diet tailored to specific species and environments. Efficient feeding and novel feed ingredients are also needed for aquaculture to develop sustainably, because the production and use of terrestrial crops and the use of fishmeal and fish-oil as ingredients are associated with environmental impacts. iFishIENCi is exploring new ways of feeding fish using feed containing novel ingredients, such as algae cultivated using CO2 capture and valorised wastes.
These innovations will be integrated into sea-based fish farms, ponds, and high-tech Recirculation Aquaculture Systems. By improving efficiency, iFishIENCi will increase the profitability of European aquaculture, whilst reducing its environmental impacts.
Kick-off began with the project’s 16 partner organisations meeting in Malta for the first iFishiENCi conference. The next step was to identify the most important parameters for optimising aquaculture. Water quality is of key importance, and to monitor this, an assortment of digital sensors has been selected. They automatically collect data, accurately detecting small changes, and some have now been installed in land-based aquaculture facilities operated by project partners. Despite initial teething problems, they can now collect data continuously. Fish behaviour is also important because it is an indicator of fish health and the suitability of rearing conditions. An experiment took place to investigate how temperature affects fish behaviour and metabolism. It used sensors to monitor water quality and cameras to monitor fish movement. Further information about behaviour is being collected by echo-sounders that monitor the physical location of fish within the water. A novel experimental protocol has been designed for observing how fish behave as their level of hunger changes, and it is now in the testing phase.
The information generated by these experiments is being processed by mathematical algorithms constructed purposely for this task, representing the first stage in the development of the iFishIENCI project’s innovative, AI based technology. Continued development of this fledgling AI will be supported by new and refined algorithms for processing information generated through ongoing and future experimentation. A software architecture has been proposed to enable digital communication between AI, monitoring devices, and feeding and other automated cultivation technologies.
To reduce the dependency of carnivorous marine fish aquaculture upon wild-caught fish and to increase economic circularity through using wastes as valuable resources, Nannochloropsis gaditana, a species of single-cellular algae, is being cultivated and tested as a feed ingredient. Project partners performed an experiment that compared the growth and quality of trout fed an algae-containing diet with that of fish fed standard commercial feed. Overall, the results are promising, and although trout fed the algae-containing grew slightly slower, the edible fillet portion of the fish was larger and had an attractive, deep-orange colour. African catfish breeding experiments are selecting fish with genetics that facilitate efficient digestion of processed animal protein, so this protein source be used to replace fishmeal.
Various activities have taken place to ensure that information about the project’s progress and results are effectively communicated across iFishIENCi partners and to policy makers, industry members, and other relevant stakeholders. A review of relevant policies, legislation and environmental standards have been completed to ensure iFishIENCi products can be applied within the European and global legal framework. Focus group surveys have taken place to understand consumer perceptions of aquaculture food products, with participants from Hungary and Germany. Methods for conducting market assessments, and business models and plans have been designed, to help bring the products to market.
Methods have been developed to analyse the environmental and economic sustainability of aquaculture production chains integrated with iFishIENCi products. To understand how environmental change may affect aquaculture, a model was developed to predict how climate change will influence the cultivation of different commercially important species in different regions of Europe. iBOSS should be useful in measuring the parameters that climate change will alter, allowing us to further understand how aquaculture will be affected and how it can adapt to a changing environment.
iFishIENCi is bringing together scientists, experts in AI and IoT, fish farmers and specialists in market innovations including the use of digital technology in aquaculture. A unique, mathematical feeding model based upon the latest findings in fish physiology is being combined with AI and IoT (Fish-Talk-To-Me). This model will be applied to data from a ‘first-of-its-kind’ experiment due to commence very soon A unique antioxidant feed supplement has been created from a novel algae feed ingredient, and new methods of growing the alga using valorised aquaculture waste is under development (Waste2Value). This is being combined with advanced AI and IoT to develop a cutting-edge monitoring system (iBOSS), which will be incorporated into the new state-of-the-art Recirculation Aquaculture facility (SMART-RAS). Built using the most advanced technology, this controlled aquaculture environment will enable precise feeding of fish. A combined environmental-economic Life Cycle Assessment and Costing model has been designed and will be the first such assessment applied to aquaculture.