Low cost, autonomous, real-time 3D Imaging for Offshore Aquaculture health monitoring and stock assessment

Lead Pi: Alexandra Techet · 02/2020 - 01/2022

Project number: R/RD-44

Objectives: To develop (design, fabricate and test) an open source, low cost, 3D light field imaging system, that can be integrated into offshore, open water aquaculture systems, capable of imaging in highly turbid environments, which enable remote monitoring and autonomous assessment of fish stock health; including individual and group behaviors; skin and fin health; fish stock population numbers, individual fish sizes and growth (biomass), and fish-to-fish spacing within aquaculture pens.

Methodology: A light field aquaculture imaging system (LFAIS) will be designed and fabricated, using 4-6 camera elements and LED lighting. The camera array design will be simulated to optimize camera and lighting layout. Bench testing with live fish schools in the PIs laboratory will be performed, before system water-proofing for field deployment. Environmental considerations, such as biofouling, net-pen motion, and possible fish encounters, will advise the design process. The PI has made connections with several corporate and academic aquaculture entities and will continue to engage with these groups for advise and design review throughout the project and to facilitate field testing.

Rationale: While aquaculture technological advances grow rapidly worldwide, moving offshore into deeper waters presents the opportunity to take advantage of less crowded, cleaner, and more nutrient-rich environments, but can increase operational costs. To reduce costs, design advances in technology, materials, and sensors to ensure farms withstand environmental forces, have minimal environmental impact, and require minimal human interaction, while maintaining economically viable production output, are necessary. Low-power, low-cost autonomous imaging systems for monitoring fish stock health and growth can greatly enhance offshore fishery performance and reduce labor costs associated with regular visits to offshore farming sites, while mitigating fish stock loss/disease.