Pacific salmon threaten to overtake Atlantic salmon in hundreds of rivers along the nation’s coast
Huawei and its partner Berlevåg Jeger-og Fiskerforening (BJFF) have implemented an AI-powered filtering system in Norway’s Storelva River that allows Atlantic salmon to pass upstream while filtering out other invasive species.
Norway’s delicate coastal ecosystem has been damaged over the past few decades, largely due to the introduction of Pacific salmon species in Russia’s White Sea in the 1950s, which have since made their way south into Norwegian waters.
The fish have a rapid reproductive cycle and are able to compete aggressively for food, threatening to outcompete native Atlantic salmon in hundreds of rivers along the nation’s coasts.
Huawei and BJFF have successfully implemented and tested a filtering system that uses AI to prevent Pacific salmon from entering the upstream channel of Norway’s river system. A mechanical gate allows Atlantic salmon, as well as Arctic char, to continue upstream to complete their spawning migration. The invasive species is diverted to a holding tank for subsequent removal.
The algorithms were designed in early 2021 based on Huawei’s machine vision technology to identify different types of fish. In July 2021, the two companies deployed a monitoring station equipped with an underwater camera in the Storelva River. By providing a continuous video stream, the hardware is able to use the algorithm to identify Atlantic salmon with 91% accuracy, reducing the need for workers to manually inspect the fish by 90%.
Traditionally, volunteers were required to stand in the river to identify Pacific salmon with the naked eye, mainly by the spots on their tails. This can make it difficult to quantify the threat, as many fish are missed and their sex impossible to determine.
“This is a unique innovation, both in Norway and globally. With this high-tech solution, we have complete control over the river. Local river managers and local and central coastal administrations have also shown great interest in the project,” said BJFF President Geir Christiansen.
The Chinese tech company said the search for a solution is urgent. The number of Pacific salmon in Norway’s rivers increased sharply with 13,900 catches in 2019, jumping to a record 111,700 catches in 2021, representing 57% of all salmon caught in the country. Although almost all of these fish are caught in Troms and Finnmark, a county in the north of the country, catches of Pacific salmon are recorded in every county.
In contrast, numbers of native wild salmon have declined by a quarter of peak levels. Huawei and the BJFF said the invasive species was largely responsible, with escaped and less genetically diverse farmed salmon exacerbating the problem by weakening the Atlantic salmon genome after interbreeding.
The companies also claim that the data collected can reveal precise patterns of migratory behavior, monitor different types of fish populations, inform further research and help develop measures to stop overfishing.
The next step of the project is to implement the technology in salmon farms in Norway to reduce the environmental damage caused by escaped farmed fish.
© Denis Publishing House