The world’s wild fish stocks are depleting at a rapid pace. The growing demand for high quality protein sources catalyzes need for increased operational efficiency and quality in wild and farmed fisheries. Economic yields and total cost of production are largely dependent on fish health and cost of feed. Are large-scale sensor deployment, IoT and big data platforms all part of the answer to sustainable fish production?
As discussed earlier, the advent of low-cost renewables and digital infrastructure is drastically changing the way the world’s industries operate. Much as in any large-scale industrial operation, fisheries need a certain amount of process control to maintain predictable results over time. The principles for this are the same in the oceans as on any factory floor, only that the prerequisites in the maritime space are very different with remote harsh conditions and large geographical distances.
Future challenges and opportunities are quantifiable in terms of maritime space. The total coastline of Norway is as an example 25,000 kilometers, all fiords included. Breeding pens in a larger aquaculture company count in thousands and fishing vessels in the EU amounts to more than 80,000.
Moreover, sustainable yields are dependent on the food chain at 200–1,000 meters depth where the bulk of biomass is located. Currently, there is limited harvest from that part of the water column. That might change in the near future with industrial businesses looking at deep ocean krill and micro algae as raw materials for future agricultural feed. That, in turn, will drive additional need in monitoring and control of species volume.
Only 5–10 years ago, controlled fisheries production would not have been possible. Now, however, major steps in the miniaturization of electronics, cloud-based infrastructure services, machine learning-based analytics and more, are currently creating a new field of operations management – precision fisheries. Sensors placed in critical positions are capturing data such as oxygen levels or deep ocean DNA composition – all to control operations, ensure traceability or to manage shared resources, in line with EU Common Fisheries Policy, via smart analytics tools. All comes down to fundamental LEAN principles around waste reduction in operations.
Data strategy and digitalization related to food security and economic viability
Without doubt, there are large economic value in the oceans. To harvest all that value requires power. A typical commercial aquaculture operation uses large amounts of energy; even small operations in the size of GWh per day. It is used for everything from aeriation, heating and cooling, to operation of machineries and communication. Land-based farms are being collocated with sun power plants to save land and to access clean energy. As of today, offshore concepts are being developed to combine infrastructure for maritime food production and wind power grids, all requiring digital integration to manage assets, in addition to process control.
Sustainability of production across the food chain is not only related to environmental responsibility and commercial profits, it also relates to jobs creation and quality in everyday life. At Cognizant, we help fisheries and land-based farming businesses, such as Monsanto, decompose operations into the data and analytics needed to harvest natural resources at minimum cost and environmental footprint. We start of small to get quick wins and gain momentum while creating a sustainable roadmap where IoT digitalization, modern industrial concepts and a solid data strategy are central.
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