An aquaculture challenge with many knock-on effects
Norway is the second largest salmon producer in the world, with a yearly production of 61.6 billion NOK (2017, SSB). However, sea lice cause significant problems for the entire fish farming industry as they damage and even kill certain amounts of farmed salmon. Also, they can spread to wild salmon, which to salmon farmers means that while their farms have sea lice, they’re not allowed to increase their output.
A need to monitor sea lice
To keep the lice problem in check, methods involving weekly manual counting and registering of the lice, hot water washing of the fish and other time consuming and costly activities have to be carried out. When manually counting sea lice, sometimes fish die. Moreover, as the number of salmon that is examined is low, the lice number data is unreliable. As a consequence, the uncertainty may lead to unnecessary measures or the omission of more appropriate action. This is particularly problematic when, in some cases, the solution to eliminate the lice is through the use of chemicals, which can have a devastating effect on other marine life, especially crustaceans such as crabs.
Cutting costs while minimising environmental impact
Ecotone, a Norwegian technology-driven company using UHI (Underwater Hyperspectral Imaging) asked EGGS for help in developing a practical solution to the inefficient and challenging sea lice counting process. The result of which is SpectraLice®, an automatic lice counter.
The device, composed of a camera and sensors, continuously and automatically counts lice on the salmon as they are swimming in the cage. The system sends information about amount and type of lice to a control centre via a cloud-based solution, in real time. All this without manually handling the fish. That way, the sea lice data is much more reliable, and salmon producers can make better-informed decisions. For example, it becomes much easier to know when delousing needs to be done and when not, which helps keep costs down. Moreover, the use of chemicals can be lessened, avoiding damaging surrounding marine life.
A boost in data
The improved precision of sea lice counting can provide useful data which can help get a better overview of the sea lice situation throughout the Norwegian aquaculture industry and contribute to further research on the salmon lice problem.
The data gathered by SpectraLice will permit the possibility to run comparisons between the amounts of lice and other factors, such as weather conditions, currents, etc., to detect possible correlations. In the future, the plan is that hyperspectral image analysis will be used to categorise and assess potential diseases or wounds on salmon.
User insights brought SpectraLice to life
By applying service design and conducting user workshops, we gained valuable insights into how users perceived the experience, the problem, and the product. The product design and digital design have continuously been tested with users and in the environment. This part of the process has been vital, as the device needs to withstand harsh weather conditions and fluctuations in temperature. It has also helped in developing the SpectraLice visual identity and align it with the brand.
Awarded with DOGA design award
The Spectralice design has been recognised by the DOGA Award for Design and Architecture (2018).
We experience SpectraLice as a product that is both well designed and well thought out. The object itself has an appealing design with good use of materials and excellent integration of functions. The fact that it also reduces the risk of injury arising from manual counting of salmon lice is also a plus. Nevertheless, it is the innovative environmental dimension that impresses most - because it can so undoubtedly contribute to increased efficiency and sustainable growth in the industry.DOGA Design Award's jury