The DIGIRAS project has established a standardized method for analysis and monitoring of bacterial communities in recycling aquaculture systems (RAS). With this method, bacterial profiles in water and biofilms are analyzed at different locations in RAS facilities for salmon, seriola, arctic char, seabream and seabass. In addition, bacterial profiles of the fish itself are also analyzed. This will help to map bacterial communities during normal operation and identify potentially problematic conditions at an early stage before the fish is negatively affected. Monitoring of microbial communities has been started at the individual RAS facilities. A new camera system was also developed that monitors the fish underwater. This image data will later be analyzed with artificial intelligence to be able to find behavioral changes in response to changes in water quality (for example) before the fish are harmed. The camera system is established and is currently used to collect image data in an arctic char system. Formation of H2S is one of the biggest risks in RAS and monitoring H2S concentrations is a challenge. In DIGIRAS, a new portable H2S sensor is being developed to help analyze already very low H2S concentrations in the water, so that measures can be initiated before the fish are damaged. These new methods will be linked to classical analysis methods used to analyze fish health, such as analysis of cortisol and histopathological analyzes to provide a comprehensive picture of the fish's health status. To improve the water quality, especially for the removal of off-flavors and H2S, new water treatment methods are being tested in the project.
Recirculating aquaculture systems (RASs) have been developed for land-based production of sea- and freshwater species. These systems are designed to provide high biomass production while reducing resource usage and maximizing control of operational parameters. However, only a few of these parameters are systematically monitored, and currently applied analysis techniques are often insufficiently sensitive, slow or laborious. Consequently, the full potential of RASs for more sustainable food production remains unexploited. The over-all goal of the DIGIRAS project is to develop innovative and data-driven solutions for digitalization of future RAS technology in order to increase environmental compatibility, fish health and productivity. The project intends to reach this goal by systematic acquisition of relevant water quality data, parameterization of fish behaviour, developing new biological and chemical sensors and efficient water treatment technology. DIGIRAS will strive to integrate all generated data towards decision support and predictive tools for next generation digital RAS operation. In DIGIRAS, R&D institutions with strong competence in (micro)biology and chemistry, fish health, video monitoring/machine learning, modelling and water treatment technology will join forces with industrial partners from the fish farming and RAS technology sector. Together, this consortium will contribute to improve land-based fish farming technology significanlty, with respect to animal health, production conditions, environmental benefits and sustainability. Moreover, DIGIRAS aims at contributing to more sustainable growth in the aquaculture sector by developing new technologies, and thus, generating new jobs in infrastructurally less developed areas in Europe.
In DIGIRAS, 6 R&D institutions and 5 industry partners (1 external contributor) from 5 participating European countries will collaborate for 36 months with a total funding budget of 1.68 Mio € (project budget 1.94 Mio €).