A partnership between Scottish Agri-EPI Centre and Stirling-based Aqualife, the world’s largest fish manual vaccination company, is set to help increase fish health, welfare and productivity in the aquaculture sector.
With support from Agri-EPI, Aqualife has won £250,000 funding from the Seafood Innovation Fund, awarded by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), to develop and launch a “transformational” fish vaccinating robot by the end of 2021.
The robot, named Incubot 2, will be able to vaccinate fish at sizes below 20 grams, as opposed to the common weight of between 30 and 120 grams, allowing producers to increase productivity by growing their fish out of hatcheries far sooner. It will be capable of vaccinating most species of farmed fish, in large numbers.
Incubot 2 will be a mobile platform allowing Aqualife to offer automated vaccination to smaller fish farms which cannot afford to invest in large scale immobile systems. The robot will also help to improve fish quality using artificial intelligence and “deep learning” algorithms to increase vaccination accuracy and improve fish grading.
“The aquaculture industry in Scotland aims to double its economic contribution from an estimated £1.8 billion in 2016 to £3.6 billion by 2030. To achieve this, it must develop solutions to reduce fish losses, most of which result from disease. Health and welfare issues have also attracted public attention,” said Aqualife chief executive, Gordon Jeffrey.