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The Ålesund-based company Optimar, which supplies equipment and factories to the farming industry and fisheries, has developed a ground-breaking bleeding method which leads to the fish being killed in a humane way. This method gives the final product better quality.

Traditionally, it has been common to collect live fish from the farms with well boats and deliver them to a holding cage adjacent to the factory. This method requires the fish to be handled in several rounds and subjected to extra stress. The concept that Optimar has developed is called Stun & Bleed and, in short, involves the fish being picked up with a boat that pumps the fish on board. There, it is stunned with Optimar’s electric stunner. In an anesthetized state, the fish is automatically passed on to Optimar’s bleeding robot for gutting. After this, the fish goes straight into the cooling tanks and bleeds out during transport.

– On the conveyor belt on board the fish processing boats, we have an advanced camera and laser system that records the fish after it has been stunned, but before it is bled. Data from the cameras and the laser are analyzed using artificial intelligence and used to build a complete 3D image of each fish. Then we can find the average weight of each individual. This information is sent to the packing plant on land so that they know exactly how much fish they should receive in their production, explains Hans Owen Thunem who is VP Sales Aqua at Optimar.

Hans Owen Thunem

VP Sales Aqua at Optimar

With the help of the same data, the robot that bludgeons the fish receives information that means that the bludgeing takes place exactly at the very best point, every time.

– That way we ensure the best possible bleeding, adds Thunem.

Stun & Bleed System

Human fish welfare most important

Optimar’s main focus is humane fish welfare, where the aim has been to develop a killing method that stresses the fish as little as possible. The less the fish is stressed, the better the final product. But the method also has several other advantages:

– The fish processing boats are specially built to catch a certain amount of fish at the right time. With a capacity of around 80 fish per minute per production line, the method is also very efficient. This corresponds to 20 to 25 tonnes of fish per hour. In addition, it is labour-saving, and killing is done much more accurately than humans can do manually.

The fish processing boats also help make aquaculture more sustainable. These boats transport 75-80 per cent fish and 20-25 per cent water, while traditional well boats only transport 15 per cent fish, but as much as 85 per cent water. This results in significantly lower fuel consumption so that emissions per tonne of fish are significantly lower.

Mobile blue rigs

Optimar has also developed a mobile system where the industry’s service boats can easily be modified into temporary bleeding boats.

– We have mobile bleeding rigs that are easy to take on board for the period when fish are to be slaughtered, and to ensure that it is done in a responsible and regulatory manner. The rest of the year the boats can be used in other service operations, Thunem explains.

Both bleeding systems have in common that they can also be used for a number of other fish and shellfish species than the traditional farmed species such as salmon and trout. This in turn has materialized in several inquiries and sales to farming companies outside Norway and is supported by several welfare organizations and supermarket chains.

Focus on sustainability

Georg Holger Saint-Denis, who is CEO of Optimar, is particularly concerned about Optimar’s role as a driving force to make the fishing and aquaculture industry more sustainable:

– We feel obliged to lead the development of sustainability in the fisheries and aquaculture industry and contribute to helping our customers around the world achieve their sustainability goals by offering them our advanced systems. By using AI together with the automated machines, and connecting them to the Optimar Commander Software, we support the goal of sustainable fisheries and fish farming. It is only when we have total control of what we take out of the sea that we can ensure 100 per cent utilization of all catches, he concludes.

Georg Holger Saint-Denis

CEO of Optimar

Written by Tom Backe

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