Rising incomes and a growing desire for healthier lifestyles mean consumption of fish is expected to increase significantly in the coming years, especially in Asia. With overfishing already putting pressure on many natural fish stocks, aquaculture will be vital in meeting this demand. Aquaculture is now one of the fastest growing food production sectors in the world.
The Asia-Pacific region is home to many of the world’s largest aquaculture-producing nations, including China, India and Japan. China accounts for almost two-thirds of global production, according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association (NOAA).
The market received a fresh boost this month with the news Japanese company Nippon Steel & Sumikin Engineering had developed a fish farming system that promises to drastically reduce manpower requirements.
FISH FARMING SYSTEM
The new system is being tested off the coast of Tottori, in western Japan, at a salmon cultivation facility owned by Nippon Suisan Kaisha (Nissui). It’s located about twenty minutes by ship from Sakai Port - one of the country’s largest landings.
Nippon specializes in the design and installation of offshore platforms for oil and gas developments. The facility in Tottori features an 18-metre-tall steel tower standing 3km off the coast, with fish pens extending up to 150 metres from the tower. The fish pens were built to withstand tidal currents with a speed of up to 2 knots and waves up to 7 meters.
Blowers, which send out food by air pressure, are installed on the tower. Farmers can control the blowers by computer or with mobile devices, removing the need to go down to the pens for feeding. Nippon say the automated system will require only one-third the manpower compared with conventional feeding techniques.
They are also able to monitor the fish’s eating habits using artificial food equipped with built-in sensors. They can determine the appetite levels of fish by the frequency of their biting and adjust the amount of food according to their hunger levels so that they can grow quality salmon with zero waste.
Nippon said its automated feeding system is the first of its kind in the world. It plans to market the system to fishery companies that are struggling with labor shortages and rising costs. Given the size of the aquaculture market in Asia, it hopes to export the system to other countries in the region in the near future.
Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for our weekly Analyst Q&A. This week analyst is Dr. Alan Bullion of Animal Pharm, a leading online service for animal health and nutrition business intelligence, and one of the many topics we touched upon was the aquaculture market.
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(Image Credit - NOAA)