Four Common Aquaculture Net Inspection Difficulties • How Subsea Robots Can Help

Today, more than half of the fish consumed globally is produced by aquaculture as per the reports of The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

The world is producing almost 200 million tons of aquaculture products annually. While this is good news for everyone involved in the industry, it also means that businesses need to be careful about how they monitor their underwater structures and ensure food safety for consumers.

That’s why fish net inspections have become such an important part of the aquaculture process. It enables you to check for net damages thoroughly. But unfortunately, not all businesses are equipped with a reliable and quick inspection system and therefore struggle with identifying issues in their fish net inspection routine.

Fish net inspections are one of the most important processes in the aquaculture industry. The fish net inspection process can check the durability of the fish net, reduce the risk of danger for workers, and keep the production running smoothly. Regular net inspections ensure that there are no holes, rips, or other defects present that could cause fish to be harmed by the net or escape. If there are any defects in the net, quick action can be taken for restoration.

According to recent reports, 59 million adult salmon and 113 million smolts were lost in the year2020 due to damages to fish pens and nets.

Here are the most common difficulties when inspecting your fish nets in aquaculture:

1. Manual inspections are time-consuming and risky

Manual underwater inspections are always time-consuming, as the work is done in intervals by human divers. Due to the involvement of humans, safety and injury risks must be considered as well. 

2. Lack of visual inspection teams

The world is facing a shortage in the field of trained commercial divers. According to reports, Denmark is already short of commercial divers, and this is creating a bottleneck in the development of underwater projects. 

3. The heavy burden of equipment and material inspection

Undertaking visual inspections through commercial divers and large industrial ROVs is very expensive. Whenever you want to have a full inspection of your fish nets and structure, commercial divers must be used, which is both a heavy time-cost and financial cost. Inspections through large industrial ROV’s are very expensive as it requires extensive training to operate and custom equipment to deploy. Companies must make tough judgement calls – and sometimes must choose to remove high-expense inspections from budgets, whilst knowing the importance of inspecting their fish nets frequently.

4. Difficulties in receiving precise data collection and meaningful analysis

The final footage that users get from manual inspections and other large industrial ROV’s are often low-quality visuals. Identifying crucial points of interest and damages through manual inspections can be missed. On the other hand, large ROVs are not suitable for inspecting compact areas and are not able to deliver detailed imagery. It is difficult and time-consuming for a reviewer to sit down and try to identify key points in low-quality footage.

Demands for a major shift toward autonomous solutions

High-quality and frequent fish net inspections are a major asset and need in the aquaculture industry. The industry needs to shift towards autonomous solutions that increase the effectiveness of operations and eliminate diver safety hazards.

Underwater semi-autonomous robotic solutions can slash the operational costs of inspections, as there is a lower operational staff requirement, minimal training requirements, and a more affordable piece of equipment to rent or purchase – in the form of a small robot. There is also the option to keep a robot onsite to generate daily inspection reports and give constant peace of mind that your nets are intact.

Blue Atlas Robotics offers autonomous solutions for inspections of your underwater assets – our Sentinus robot has all the capabilities to perform affordable, reliable, fast, and consistent inspections.

Our 16kg self-steering robot can be deployed quickly into the water by just one worker. After deploying into the water, it is able navigate by itself and perform visual inspections using computer-driven navigation. There are eight powerful thrusters onboard the Sentinus, which contribute to stability and speedy surveying, as well as delivering extremely detailed, crisp footage and images of your subsea assets and surfaces.

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