The AI Environment that is Building a Sustainable Aquatic Ecosystem

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Insights into how global companies are employing cutting-edge AI environment technologies to enhance sustainable practices in fishing and aquaculture, contributing to the preservation of marine ecosystems.

AI environment: Across the globe, companies are investing in advanced technologies to foster sustainable practices in fishing and aquaculture. From utilising artificial intelligence (AI) to detect invasive species that jeopardise marine food chains, to implementing innovative light systems that specifically attract desired species, these businesses are redefining sustainability in the sector, according to the non-profit conservation and environmental science news platform, Mongabay.

Given the escalating global population and corresponding demand for protein, the need for sustainable sourcing is becoming increasingly urgent. This is particularly true in fishing, where the removal of bycatch—unintentionally caught species—is both costly and labor-intensive. More critically, it poses severe threats to marine life, with the majority of unintentionally captured creatures not surviving the ordeal. Bycatch is estimated to comprise up to 40% of the global fishing catch, with detrimental effects on marine ecosystems and their inherent food chains.

In an effort to address this challenge, UK-based startup SafetyNet Technologies has pioneered a unique solution. The company’s technology revolves around LED lights, whose colour and intensity can be adjusted to attract specific fish species, thus minimising bycatch. This AI environment is set to revolutionise sustainable fishing practices.

SafetyNet’s system employs different lights to lure different species, relying on the creatures’ unique responses to various light triggers. Preliminary surveys suggest that this approach is effective in reducing bycatch, with trials ongoing to further establish its efficacy. Despite the risk of potential overfishing due to the over-congregation of target species, SafetyNet Technologies ensures that its customers and partners align with the company’s values to prevent equipment misuse.

This AI environment not only saves fishers valuable time but also helps reduce carbon emissions from excessive fuel consumption in search of target fish. SafetyNet is among a growing number of companies globally leveraging artificial intelligence, imaging, innovative lighting, and advanced fishing nets to promote sustainable fishing. These technologies enable companies to monitor fish health, deter invasive species, and minimise bycatch.

Reports from various sources, including a 2022 report by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), have highlighted the pressing need for these sustainable practices. Overfishing and competition from invasive species have led to a significant depletion of marine life. Only 64.6% of fishing stocks were fished sustainably in 2019, down from 90% in the 1970s. The burgeoning global population has heightened the urgency for sustainable protein sourcing, necessitating the development of less harmful and more productive fishing methods.

Several initiatives worldwide are making strides in finding effective solutions. For instance, in New Zealand, a collaborative initiative involving the government, scientists, and seafood companies has made headway in reducing bycatch. Precision Seafood Harvesting has replaced traditional trawl nets with an innovative net design that enables smaller fish to escape and the remaining catch to stay in the water longer. This approach allows fishers to release bycatch more successfully and improve their survival odds.

Ohio-based Radmantis, on the other hand, concentrates on aquaculture. Using imaging and AI technologies, Radmantis has developed a device capable of monitoring and classifying fish based on physical characteristics. If the AI model detects signs of illness, such as fin discoloration or erratic swimming patterns, the device segregates the sick fish into a separate holding facility.

This approach significantly reduces the risk of widespread disease in intensive aquaculture systems, where manual management may not suffice. With the expected growth of aquaculture in the coming years, the FAO report stresses the importance of sustainable expansion via technological innovations and policy support. Radmantis’s product is a step in the right direction, addressing one of the major obstacles to fish farming—the spread of infectious diseases.

Outside of aquaculture, Radmantis’s fish classification system shows potential for identifying and controlling invasive species in freshwater ecosystems. This AI environment could be invaluable in regions like North America’s Great Lakes, where invasive species like sea lampreys have wreaked havoc on native fish populations and the fishing economy.

Despite the technological advancements, there are inherent challenges associated with the implementation of technology in fishing compared to agriculture, primarily due to the harsh underwater environment. However, the urgent need for sustainable and responsible seafood sourcing is propelling further innovations. These innovations promise to reshape fisheries and aquaculture, fulfilling the growing demand for food while keeping the resource footprint low, contributing to a healthier AI environment. The potential unlocked by such “blue tech” innovations signifies a promising future for sustainable seafood production.

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