Fish welfare improvement through low biomass density transfers achieved with the innovative Voluntary Swim-In (VSI) system (RD173)


In this project, a fish transfer system will be developed which takes advantage of Atlantic salmon’s natural behaviours to reduce stress during transfer processes, ultimately improving fish welfare and reducing aquaculture costs.

Funding Amount:


Duration of Project:

18 months

Project Summary:

East Coast Innovation (ECI) is in the process of developing a novel fish transfer system aimed at improving fish welfare by reducing the stress and injury associated with the transfer process. The patent pending Voluntary Swim-In (VSI) fish transfer technology is designed to decrease the stress Atlantic salmon experience when being pumped from one location to another. By utilising their natural behaviour instinct relative to water current direction and speed, fish voluntarily swim towards the transfer unit, decreasing the biomass density of the fish population while maintaining a high transfer rate without crowding. The corking procedure will be adjusted to produce a biomass density significantly less (<150 kg/m³) than that used in current practice (300-500 kg/m³). This reduction in biomass density will greatly improve the conditions experienced by the population of fish and will reduce the negative impacts to the fish. The stress caused by intense crowding can result in salmon refusing to feed for 3-5 days following a transfer. Furthermore, the transfer process is associated with injury and/or mortality, either immediate or prolonged because of elevated stress levels. Reducing the stress experienced from these events will significantly improve fish welfare. This not only benefits the fish population, but ultimately the producer. Improved animal welfare is linked to lower mortalities, improved yields, and reduced costs. Transfers using the VSI are also envisioned to be less labour intensive which further reduces production costs. The VSI technology has the potential to revolutionise the fish transfer process.

STATUS: Ongoing

Project Lead

East Coast Innovation Inc.