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8.3.2 Automated Tools for Detecting Entanglement Risks Associated with Aquaculture


Summary: Machine vision and/or artificial intelligence tools to detect and respond to entanglement risks specifically associated with aquaculture operations in coastal or offshore environments (e.g. entanglements of offshore marine aquaculture systems and gear with marine mammals and turtles, or other species of concern). Creation and deployment of a system that can anticipate entanglement events and potentially deter the animal and/or alert aquaculture operators when there is either an increased likelihood of an entanglement, or an actual entanglement event. This could be real time detection/monitoring or a combination of real time detection and 70 modeling. The next step would be to act on the information provided by that tool; systems which could respond (or at least have a pathway to effect a response) to risks with deterrent and mitigation and measures and are preferred.


Project Goals: Risk of entanglements caused by aquaculture installations creates a critical roadblock for many interested parties seeking to obtain aquaculture permits in the US. Currently, the only tools available would be sensors and cameras that might be capable of alerting farm managers to an active crisis, but there is nothing that could help them avoid a crisis before it occurred. Particularly for unmanned farm sites that could exist several miles offshore, early detection of risks could provide deeply valuable protection. Most of the entanglement events that could occur at an aquaculture installation remain unknown to the operators without a human site visit. Animals that become entangled stand very little chance of surviving/escaping, but paying salaries and ensuring the safety for 24 hour staffing to monitor a farm site is prohibitively expensive. If affordable technology could be developed and deployed that could sense animals likely to become entangled and deter them, and/or immediately alert farmers if an entanglement has occurred, they could take a very rapid, specific action in response (as opposed to visiting the site, discovering a problem and having to make a return trip to the site to resolve it). In addition to protecting marine mammals and other species of concern, this type of system could potentially prevent damage to equipment, escape events, and tremendous time and expense to operators incurred while resolving entanglements. Providing farmers with a tool to reliably and affordably avoid and/or cope with animal entanglements will significantly improve success rates of permit applications and allow for increased growth of US aquaculture. Potential buyers of this technology will be aquaculture producers who have a need for farm-side monitoring that can alert them to events that threaten their crops and/or equipment. Research institutions would also purchase these to protect experimental farms and research installations.

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