New feed systems camera quick to show savings

November 6, 2015 - Campbell River, B.C.

An investment into underwater eyes is already showing huge benefit for salmon farmers at Marine Harvest Canada (MHC). The introduction of Steinsvik feeding cameras in and above salmon pens at MHC farms is not just growing fish faster, it is also helping farmers gain quick and easy access to vital infrastructure.

The company has now completed installation of the state of the art feed monitoring systems at eight of its farms, and expects to outfit 10 more farms by the end of this year at a cost of $2.5 million (CDN).

Feed manager, Rodrigo Cristi, is pleased with the early results shown. “Our feed intake is 10 to 20 per cent above similar farms that haven’t yet installed these new camera systems”, says Rodrigo. “Our feed technicians are now much more comfortable feeding to fish reaction, rather than feeding to a recommended ration."

Rodrigo credits this improved feed efficiency to Steinsvik’s unique vertical and horizontal winch system. Combined with the ‘pan and tilt’ camera, it enables the feeder to quickly and accurately position the camera according to wind condition, water current, or fish location.

“Our farms are achieving maximum biomass sooner, which will enable us to use our sites more efficiently,” states Rodrigo.

There are also several unintended benefits due to the camera’s quick maneuverability within the pen, including easy ability for visual inspection of the farm’s underwater infrastructure.

“You can have quick access to all parts of the net to inspect integrity,” says Andy Haslam, site manager at Hardwicke Island. “This is especially important after a winter storm, where we are regulated to quickly check the farm for storm damage.”

In addition to observing the activity below the farm, pan and tilt surface cameras allow the farmer to see virtually all parts of the farm from elevation. This “eye in the sky” not only allows for cross referencing feed delivery from the surface and underwater, but also provides quick visual access to most areas of the farm.

MHC states that the Steinsvik investment is just one part of its overall feed equipment improvement plan. Another large investment includes new barges and feed delivery systems that will enable technicians to feed up to six fish pens at the same time. This improvement will allow farmers to optimize the best feeding times during the day after considering tidal currents, dissolved oxygen levels, and harmful plankton.