Capsule-based system to enable Precision Livestock Farming and eliminate environmental and economical effects of fish escape in marine aquaculture.


European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme for Research, FP7-SME-2013 Research for SMEs
Grant Agreement No.: 606061
Start Date: 1st Aug. 2013
Duration: 24 months
Project Consortium: 9 partners from Norway, Denmark, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Sweden and UK
Project Coordinator: Carl Ivar Holmen, Seafood Security, Asker, Norway


AquaFarmControl aims to develop an innovative integrated solution to enable Precision Livestock Farming for the global aquaculture industry and to eliminate the environmental and economical problem of fish escapees in the case of a fish pen breach. New skills will be developed that will push forward Europe’s competitive edge within the sector and benefit the involved SMEs commercially.

The proposed AquaFarmControl system solution, based on patented technology, is centred on a miniature capsule device, inside the fish, that is remotely controlled by sonar equipment installed in the fish farm pens. Sonar equipment will be integrated with a central Control Unit that will allow for full, real-time, biomass management control by the farm operator. Fish will be ethically immobilized by the capsule in the event of an escape and the farm operator will be automatically alarmed, via the mobile telephone network, allowing for quick action to remedy the cause of the escape and to avoid larger losses of the farmed fish biomass. The figure below presents a complete fish life cycle of a farm with the proposed AquaFarmControl solution implemented.

Acreo Swedish ICT has the research and development responsibility for the miniature capsule device that is the main component of the AquaFarmControl solution. The active, multi-purpose capsule will be injected into the fish belly at initial vaccination and should be compatible with existing vaccination equipment to avoid the need for extra operational stages or process steps. The capsule will be commanded by sonar and the sonar/capsule communication will be designed based on a passive surveillance configuration that shall ensure that capsules will not be triggered falsely or in the case of equipment failure. Fish farm operators will be able to activate/deactivate capsules during fish growth by using the sonar communication. The capsule will be designed for biocompatibility and for ease of recovery during the fish harvesting.

The capsule comprises the fish immobilization system that is to be triggered when escapes from the fish farm perimeter are detected, thus inhibiting the long term environmental effects of escaped fish from marine aquaculture. Furthermore, capsule interrogation will aid precision livestock farming by allowing fish farmers to scan and track individual fish at any stage of the fish growth to assess for relevant information such as DNA, origin, location, and date of release.

The capsule development presented significant challenges for Acreo and the relevant project partners in the technology areas of microelectronics, miniaturization, ultra low-power management, hydroacoustic communication, micro-injection molding, polymer materials.

Field testing of the AquaFarmControl system and capsule developed during the project was successfully performed in collaboration with a large European fish farm operator at a Scottish aquaculture research facility at the end of the project.

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