Ace Aquatec’s Humane Stunner wins Global Aquaculture Innovation Award
Ace Aquatec has received the 2019 Global Aquaculture Innovation Award for its “Universal Humane Stunner” technology.
The award was decided by the audience during GOAL 2019 from three finalists: Ace Aquatec’s stunner, Arbiom’s wood-based fish feed, and Pegasus Science’s new mycotoxin testing devices. Those three finalists were decided from a field of 43 applicants from 20 countries, the largest that the award has ever had and double what has been submitted in the past.
Aquatec’s stunner is a way for both wild-caught and aquaculture operations involving finfish to humanely stun fish until the point of death.
“The stunning process can be a huge stress for fish, but it doesn’t need to be,” said Mike Forbes of Ace Aquatec. “That’s the firm belief that led us to develop the Humane Stunner Universal.”
According to Forbes, the company looked at current marketplace trends and recognized an increasing push for animal welfare, and developed the stunner as a way to pre-emptively counter any industry criticism.
To start, Forbes said, Ace Aquatech examined the current stunning methods on the market: carbon dioxide, ice, percussive stunning, and dry electric stunning using paddles. In every case, the methods had potential issues, from potential cruelty issues, potential failure rates, and flesh damage on the fish.
The stunner Ace Aquatec created, by contrast, is 100 percent effective and uses a water-based electrical stunning system. The concept is fairly straightforward: Fish pass through a pipe system that has sections containing an electrical field.
“An electrical field is distributed evenly throughout the water. As soon as the fish enter that section, in less than one second, the fish are unconscious,” Forbes said.
In order to prove that the fish were unconscious, the company worked with the University of Bristol to do EKG tests, which showed the process to have a 100 percent stun rate.
The stun method has secondary benefits aside from being a humane way to stun fish. It also resulted in some improvements in product quality, and an increase in efficiency at many of the facilities, the company said. It also had an unforeseen benefit: lower impact on the fish eggs.
“We now work for a hatchery in Alaska to increase the yield of their egg production,” Forbes said.
The system’s simplicity also keeps maintenance at a minimum.
“It was important for us to have a low maintenance system as well,” Forbes said. “We work with farms that are very sometimes multiple planes, boats, and seaplanes away from the supply chain.”
According to Forbes, the company has already created systems for both aquaculture facilities. They also have plans in the works to create systems for wild-caught fisheries as well.