A Norwegian inventor is developing a new and sophisticated method to track escaped farmed salmon. The method is using the salmon´s iris. The technology has also been used to develop a smart phone app for sports fishermen.
It is on the Norwegian island Frøya, known for salmon farming, that the inventor, Frank Jakobsen at Frid Tech AS is working to develop an improved method to classify escaped farmed salmon.
“By scanning the iris in farmed salmon and use profiles that these scans produces, we are able to recognize and track escaped salmon that has been caught,” Frank Jakobsen said in an interview with the Norwegian Broadcasting Company (NRK) online.
He is working with researchers at the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA). In a project financed by the Norwegian Research Council they are researching if iris recognition works as well to identify fish as it does to identify people.
“If we can achieve the precision we are looking for, it could enable anyone with a camera or a smart phone to check the origin of the fish they caught just by using a simple mobile app we have developed,” Jakobsen said.
Tagging all farmed salmon in order to easily identify escaped fish an trace it back to where it came from has high political priority in Norway. If Jakobsen´s method works, farmers my not have to tag each and every fish. It will be enough to scan each fish eye, which will save the farmers money. It will also improve animal welfare. Currently, farmers can tag their fish by for example clipping fins, mineral analysis of fish scales, genetic methods and analysis of bones in a fish´s ear.
The researchers were able to reach a 77 percent recognition accuracy using the first version of the software. After significant improvements to the software they are now reaching 98 percent accuracy. The initial trials were performed by Nofima (The Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture).
NINA thought Frank Jakobsen´s idea was very interesting, but they assumed that someone else had already done this type of research. However, when they were not able to find anything published about it, they decided it was time to join Jakobsen.
The research takes place at NINA´s research station at Ims, not too far from Stavanger, Norway. The work is quite complicated and resource intensive. The researchers are registering iris from several thousand fish at regular intervals. They are doing this in order to document the method´s accuracy and to collect the necessary data to be able to change the algorithms used in the recognition process.
The developers are hopeful that this new technology will have a very high degree of accuracy. At such high precision, farmed fish could be registered before it is released into ocean pens. This will make it easy to trace escaped fish back to the producer.
“Even if the precision is not optimal, fish researchers throughout the world will draw significant benefits from this technology,” the inventor, Frank Jakobsen believes.