Restrictions on biomass limit the supply of farmed salmon
The salmon industry’s growth is limited by the total number of fish that can be farmed in a specific area, called the maximum allowable biomass (MAB).
There are two ways to tackle this bottle neck:
– Increase the MAB quota (the ‘policy’ approach), and/or
– Improve the utilization of the existing MAB (the ‘operational’ approach).
Both strategies can help salmon farming become more productive and profitable. The difference between them is that policies are hard to change, while farmers can directly control their operational practices.
Gender sorting helps farmers make the most of the existing MAB by increasing operational efficiency, enabling them to produce more with less.
Using a mono-gender approach increase yield and shorten production cycles
Males reach their optimal harvest weight six months before females. Waiting for females to catch up leads to increased expenses (e.g., feed), a larger operational footprint (e.g., discharge), and higher biological risks (e.g., parasites).
There’s also the opportunity cost of missing out on one extra all-male harvest per five (as-is) production cycles.
Moreover, males mature sexually earlier than females. Early maturation typically occurs in 1-5% of the population, increasing in frequency with longer production cycles. When salmon mature, quality, growth, and survival rates are reduced, making them less likely to end up on consumers’ plates. The financial, operational, and environmental resources spent on raising them are consequently wasted.
Farmers can opt not to wait for the females to catch up, harvesting them at lower weights and reducing the batch’ total potential yield. Also – when there’s a larger variance in fish weights, more fish end up in unwanted weight groups and are thrown away.
But the choice between 1. longer production cycles with added risks and high alternative costs, or 2. shorter production cycles with a lower yield, is an unnecessary trade-off.
The solution is to separate males and females into different tanks/pens, allowing each group to be harvested at the optimal time.
Oh, and there’s an added bonus: While females grows significantly slower than males in mixed groups, they only grow 4-8% slower in all-female batches.
Gender sorting increase production efficiency by 20%, making it a valuable practice for salmon farmers who want to optimize their operations and promote a more sustainable industry.
Introducing the SORTpro: An innovative gender sorting solution
As of 2023, experts manually separate 50% of Chile’s farmed salmon population into mono-gender tanks/pens. This service has not been available in other regions – until now.
We have developed the SORTpro, an AI-powered machine that automatically sorts 10,000 juvenile salmon per hour based on e.g. gender.
The SORTpro uses neural networks that mimic the human brain, learning from examples (i.e. our vast proprietary data library) to make highly accurate (>95%) decisions. These lightning-fast classifications can be executed at scale with the help of the machine’s automation system.
And gender sorting is only the beginning.
New features such as identification of early maturation, deformities, and disease resistance are being added in the near term. Moreover, we have several ongoing and planned proof-of-concept projects to further expand the SORTpro‘s functionality through over-the-air updates.
This suite of capabilities enables the SORTpro to boost the salmon’s performance throughout its life cycle.
Gender sorting also unlocks untapped potential
Less variation within the fish groups improves farmers’ production control, because they can tailor their approach to the needs of the salmon. More homogeneous stocks make it easier to identify and address opportunities as well as challenges, resulting in smoother operations.
Embracing mono-gender as the new industry standard opens up possibilities (in addition to increased yield).
Examples of controls that can be refined for a single sex:
– Optimizing their conditions (e.g., temperature, light) via location
– Addressing their risk profiles (e.g., susceptibility to disease, lice)
– Adjusting stock density to accomodate different growth rates
– Tailoring feeding to their nutritional needs and growth patterns
– Timing operations (e.g., grading, vaccination, transportation)
These refinements – and others like them – can further contribute to a more prosperous industry.
Don’t hesitate to reach out for more information