Since February 2016, Salmon farms in Chile have been suffering from an intensive Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) which is causing massive numbers of salmon deaths. Ultrasonic technology combined with algae detection could be the solution for an industry facing economic losses totaling millions. Currently the Dutch algae control company, LG Sonic, is discussing the implementation of ultrasonic technology with the salmon industry in order to control the algal blooms.
Algal Blooms Cost Chile’s Salmon Farms $800m
Toxic algae cause problems when blooming in seas, lakes and reservoirs, including health issues, fish deaths and odor problems. Chile, the second largest exporter of salmon worldwide, reported over 23 million fish deaths in the Lakes Region (X Región de Los Lagos), and the economic impact is lost production up to 800 million dollars in value, with a loss of 10,000 jobs and an expected increase in the price of salmon worldwide. At the moment, the HAB is spreading south, threatening to reach the XI region, where a large part of the salmon industry is concentrated.
Reduce up to 90% of the algae using ultrasound technology
The Dutch company LG Sonic has developed a solution to control algae on large water surfaces such as lakes and reservoirs. Although the company is mainly active in freshwater lakes and reservoirs, it is conducting tests to implement its environmentally friendly technology in salt water areas. Research by Dubó (2012) at the Catholic University of Chile shows the effects of ultrasound technology in the mitigation of harmful algal blooms in the aquaculture of salmonids. The results show that ultrasound is an effective solution for reducing algae in lab conditions; “The use of low power (< 10 KW/m2) combined with long exposition time (> 1 minute) indicates an efficient strategy to treat HABs at a commercial scale”.
As a result of the study, LG Sonic is investigating the possibilities of helping the salmon industry to solve its problem: “At the moment we are in contact with the salmon industry to discuss the next steps to implement ultrasonic technology in order to monitor and control the algal blooms”, says Falco Aguilar, Project Manager Latin America at LG Sonic.
Water quality monitoring for early detection of HABs to minimize the threat to the salmon industry
LG Sonic’s ultrasonic algae control systems contain detailed monitoring equipment, providing a complete overview of the water quality which enables them to control the algae accordingly using ultrasound. The real-time monitoring of essential water quality parameters (such as dissolved oxygen and temperature) and algae indicators (such as Chlorophyll a and phycocyanin) enables the prediction of algal blooms. The early detection of HABs is important since it allows fish farmers to make important decisions to minimize the damage to their operations. The application of ultrasound in a marine environment and specifically to the salmon industry can reduce the algae whose toxins are causing massive numbers of salmon deaths.