Testosterone-jacked juvenile salmon, while fascinating in nature, pose a problem for aquaculture.


Some males are quite sneaky. They mature early and fertilize eggs while their larger, normally-developed counterparts are busy fighting each other.


These rouge youngsters, commonly referred to as «Jacks», have an admirable strategy in the wild, but puberty causes them to eat less and divert resources to testicular development, leading to slow growth and inferior flesh quality, often rendering them unsuitable for human consumption.


Not only does this have a negative effect on sustainability, as it requires more resources (feed, space, water, ecological) to produce less, it also has significant financial consequences. 


If a batch has a 5% maturation rate, and a juvenile salmon (smolt) costs $3, it results in an impact of $0.15 per fish. When multiplied by the average annual throughput of a smolt facility, which is 6 million, this adds up quickly.


The industry is investing heavily in finding the right combination of solutions to combat this issue, including selective breeding (genetics), nutrition (amount and composition), medication, and environmental management (water quality, temperature, and light).


A complementary tactic is to gender-sort the salmon into different tanks/pens, which eliminates certain hormonal cues and thus decreases the rate of precocious males. Combined with the early removal of Jacks, this reduces the ecological and financial costs associated with the problem.


The SORTpro does this – among other things (e.g. gender). It leverages AI to automatically separate salmon smolt into gender and remove matured salmon from the batch (increasing efficiency by >20%).