For a powerful example of how technology improves salmon farming, look no further than a newly acquired computerized 3D mapping system. All you need is a boat and the laptop with the software loaded onto it.
“This system gives us accurate maps of our own backyard,” said Greg Gibson, Marine Harvest’s Environmental Assessment Biologist.
Layers of information appear and disappear with the click of a mouse – from where cage corners are to lease boundaries, the location of current meters and the location of the pen system within the lease boundaries.
The software has been in use since the summer of 2009 in the Klemtu area, which has the deepest water of all Marine Harvest sites on the BC coast. This, in combination with reliance on somewhat outdated data from Canadian Hydrographic Service charts, means that anchoring is often a challenge.
However, the computerized views of the land forms underwater means that locating the best places for anchors is greatly simplified.
If we know beforehand where the ridges are, it’s easy to decrease wear and tear on the anchor lines by simply changing their location. “100 feet can make a huge difference,” commented Greg. This technology makes it possible to place the anchors in more stable locations, he added.
Three sites in Klemtu have been mapped so far, with the remaining three sites still to be done.
In addition, when a return trip for sediment resampling becomes necessary, the software makes it possible to ensure that sampling is done in precisely the same area as before.
The software and an upgraded depth sounder were purchased locally through Sea-Com Marine Electric at a combined cost of about $10,000. The technology has already paid for itself, commented Greg, since hiring contractors to do the work costs between $3,000 and $5,000 each time. Another benefit to company employees using the software in the field is the industry-specific knowledge they have.
“When we’re on the boat, we see the information appear on the laptop as it’s collected and if there’s a particular area we feel needs to be mapped more thoroughly (based on what we’re being shown), that can be done right away,” Greg said.
By Gina Forsyth