New EU project brings IoT technology to the aquaculture sector

The SEASTAR digital system

The SEASTAR project hopes to address the lack of full digitalization in the aquaculture sector

The recently published Communication on International Ocean Governance charts the course for EU ocean policies for the years to come. Among the key policies is a set of EU commitments to support innovation, sustainability and competitiveness of the aquaculture sector.

Aquaculture is one of the most important sectors of the food industry in Europe and contributes vitally to food security. Yet there are still many obstacles to the expansion of the aquaculture sector, which the EU is working to overcome, both at policy and technological level, by supporting innovative ideas and digitalisation.

The EU-funded SEASTAR (SurvEillance of Aquaculture farmS with neTworks of underwAter sensoRs) project is precisely one such innovative idea that has the potential to change the way the aquaculture sector works.

aquaculture technicians on a net pen
Aquaculture technicians in a net pen

Lack of digitization means many aquaculture operators rely on manual solutions for daily tasks and interventions

SEASTAR (implemented by WSense srl, WSense AS, Leroy Seafood Group and the University of Bergen) responds to the lack of complete digitization of the sector, which forces aquaculture operators to carry out daily tasks and monitoring activities manually or with costly on-site interventions.

SEASTAR accomplishes the same tasks by harnessing innovative underwater Internet of Things technologies and integrating them with miniaturized wearable sensors to be placed on fish.

The resulting system provides an innovative underwater wireless monitoring infrastructure that, for the first time, will allow fish farmers to monitor fish health remotely, in real time, and collect relevant data (water quality and structural integrity of cages) for an accurate risk assessment. , forecasting and management.

The design of the SEASTAR system
The design of the SEASTAR system

The architecture of the system built by SEASTAR is based on 4 pillars: W-Node, W-Gateway, W-Cloud and W-Pico

The architecture of the system built by SEASTAR is based on 4 pillars: W-Node, W-Gateway, W-Cloud and W-Pico.

W-Node is the underwater sensor node, connected to sensors and actuators: it receives data, compresses it and transmits it via our underwater wireless mesh networks to a gateway. The W-Node is designed to easily integrate a wide range of sensors measuring, for example, water quality, noise and structural integrity.

The W-Gateway is the device that translates underwater signals into information and sends it to a remote control center or the W-Cloud software platform. The W-Gateway is also an advanced computer, supports signal processing and machine learning algorithms, and is a component that can implement the digital twin of aquaculture.

The W-Cloud software platform makes it possible to store, analyze and visualize data in real time. The platform also makes it possible to send commands via the gateway W to a node or to a set of nodes.

W-Pico, whose market is ready. the fully industrialized version is planned for the third quarter of 2023 is the smallest existing modem (1 cm by 5 cm), with an integrated sensor board for real-time monitoring of fish welfare and fish activity (position and depth of fish, fish activity).

Control over large areas is provided by wireless mesh communication which ensures the exchange of information over long distances, while precise control of assets is carried out via an underwater GPS solution. All components have been designed to be very low power consumption and last for years.

Claudia Petrioli, project manager, says: “With SEASTAR, we have developed an innovative underwater wireless monitoring infrastructure that, for the first time, allows fish farmers to monitor fish health remotely, in real time, and to collect relevant (water quality and cage structure integrity) data for accurate risk assessment, prediction and management.Our goal has been to make aquaculture more competitive, as a key sector to provide food to a growing humanity, and at the same time sustainable.”

The SEASTAR system is now mature, having been tested for over six months in Italy and Norway, including evaluation by third-party scientists. In addition, the project contributed to the definition of the AquaCloud 2.0 standard and its full implementation, allowing the integration of sensor data from different farms and sensor manufacturers into the monitoring system.

WSense Oceanology 2022
© WSense

The main technology developer, WSense Group, was able to develop a business plan to exploit the results of the project which attracted 2.5 million euros of private investment in a round closed just at the end of the project. Wsense has also developed an exploitation plan to bring the technologies to a global scale, opening a new cycle to take the business to the next level. The round was launched on the Blue Invest day where WSense obtained the Blue Invest Award 2022, Ocean Observation category.

This potentially game-changing project not only brings clear benefits to the industry, but fits into many policy priorities reaffirmed in international communication on ocean governance, beyond those specific to aquaculture and other EU policy initiatives.

EMD TV 2022. Interview with Chiara Petrioli, Wsense
© EU Oceans and Fisheries

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