Fiskaaling and Industry Partners Participate in the DigiHeart Research Project

NordForsk, an organization under the Nordic Council of Ministers that funds and facilitates Nordic research cooperation, has invested NOK 7,940,000 in the Digiheart Research Project. The support is granted through the Nordic Research and Innovation Programme for Sustainable Aquaculture. Associate professor at NMBU (the Norwegian University of Life Sciences) Ida Beitnes Johansen is the project leader. The project’s full title is: DigiHeart: Machine learning applied to predicting and preventing production loss in aquaculture.

The background for this project is that up to 20% of farmed salmonids die every year prior to slaughter and heart failure is a likely contributor to this mortality. Today, we are not able to reliably predict such mortality or to evaluate whether salmon have hearts that are robust enough to handle for example stressful but necessary operations. Therefore, further research into the connection between heart disease, mortality, and stress is needed to limit production loss and improve fish welfare.

The inspiration for the DigiHeart project is based on previous research which suggests that the size and shape of the heart can be used as an indicator for how likely salmon are to die during or following stressful events such as sea transfer or de-lousing.

The DigiHeart research project will collect salmon hearts in the Faroe Islands, Norway, and Sweden.   The hearts will then be photographed, and their shape and size measured by digital imaging software. Together with management data and mortality rate data, the heart images will be used to develop a digital prediction device, based on machine learning registration, to check the heart’s health state. When the app is ready, the aquaculture industry can use it in their daily operations by uploading their own images and data into the app.  The app will then generate an overview of heart health status and extrapolate that status for the salmon population on the farm. Ultimately, giving farmers a risk assessment for heart-related mortality in real-time.

Fiskaaling’s Biotech department represents the Faroese research efforts in close cooperation with Bakkafrost, Hiddenfjord and Mowi. Other participants in the project include the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, University of Oslo, the University of Gothenburg and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Participation from the private sector include DNV GL, Aqua competence, PatoGen, Midt-Norsk HAVBRUK, Ellingsen Sea Food AS and other industry partners.

"Kick Off" is scheduled to take place in the Faroe Islands when national Covid-19 regulations allow.


Contact person: Amanda Vang