AquaMaof sees efficiency, standardization as goals for the future of RAS
AquaMaof got its start over 30 years ago in Israel, when aquaculture represented just a small blip of total seafood production compared to wild-capture fisheries.
Today, aquaculture produces the majority of the seafood that the world consumes annually, according to the FAO, and that percentage continues to grow every year. Throughout that global growth, AquaMaof has placed a primary focus on making sure its equipment and technology is as efficient as possible, according to Shai Silbermann, the company’s vice president of marketing and sales.
AquaMaof is one of the main players in the recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) world – currently, the company has nine projects under development, with a combined capacity of 61,000 metric tons (MT) of Atlantic salmon and other premium species located in countries around the world.
“The interest in our technology is high and we have many additional projects in the pipeline. We are extremely selective with the projects we take on ourselves and choose only those that are expected to have the best financial results for our customers,” Silbermann said.
Current projects include Pure Salmon facilities in the U.S., France, and Japan; a new seven million smolt production facility in Newfoundland, Canada for Grieg NL, which has advanced to the construction stage; a 2,500 MT Atlantic salmon production facility in Russia that is in advanced stages of construction; a production facility in Chile for a premium species; and a 5,000 MT Atlantic salmon production facility in Japan, which is being developed for private investors.
According to Silbermann, even amid all of its ongoing projects, the company continues to focus heavily on research and development – with efficiency always at the forefront of the firm’s design philosophy.
“Efficiency is the main engine behind our technology and R&D activities,” he said. “Being able to offer enhanced productivity has a direct impact on sustainability parameters as well as bottom-line financial results.”
AquaMaof, he said, utilizes physical elements in its process that allow the company’s RAS equipment to have low energy and water consumption, while simultaneously reducing maintenance and day-to-day operation requirements.
“Moreover, integrating advanced techniques and streamlining production, operational, and biosecurity protocols has allowed us to further save on resources,” Silbermann said.
The company continues to refine the equipment that has managed to reach that efficiency level, investing resources in more R&D in order to either enhance the production of current commercial species, or identify ways to grow new ones.
“These advancements are achieved frequently and, since our technology is flexible, can be implemented in operational facilities as well as facilities which are under development,” Silbermann said. “Furthermore, AquaMaof owns and operates two R&D centers and our team consists of a large and versatile group of experienced aquaculture experts, specializing in a range of disciplines, such as fish farming, ichthyology, biosecurity, physics, chemistry, biology, feeding, process engineering, mechanical and electrical engineering, health safety and environmental engineering, and more. This is unique in the industry and allows us to offer our customers true end-to-end support, not only in water treatment, but a complete fish farming solution.”
The company isn’t just focused on growing the main, premium species that have been typically targeted for RAS production facilities across the world – it is also four years into an R&D project aimed at the commercial production of shrimp.
“In our shrimp R&D center in southern Israel, we have been adapting and testing our RAS technology for the production of shrimp with very good results, in terms of survivability, density and biosecurity – maintaining a disease-free environment for almost four years. We are currently looking into several projects to become our first large-scale R&D facility,” Silbermann said.
The next frontier, according to Silbermann, is making RAS and other aquaculture systems more consistent – taking cues from other food production industries.
“The next technological frontier will focus on facing the most burning industry challenges, which includes making production more resilient to outside effects, focusing on more industrialized and standardized solutions that will result in a consistent, reliable supply, and will enable more structured planning of production,” he said.
Those standardized solutions can look to other livestock production industries for clues, he added.
“AquaMaof is working on integrating these advanced techniques that have already proven successful in other livestock production into our technology because we see ourselves not only as constructing RAS facilities, but also as servicing our customers throughout the entire life-cycle of a project,” Silbermann said. “This is extremely important to our customers’ success.”
Big data systems, machine learning, and a focus on indoor facilities will all also be a part of future industry success, and Silbermann said RAS will play an integral role in evolving the industry even further as global demand for seafood increases.
“Industry challenges will be addressed by the integration of available advanced techniques, such as artificial intelligence and automation, and by implementation of next-generation big data systems and utilizing the insights,” Silbermann said. “In that regard, we believe RAS will have a significant role in this evolution.”
Photo courtesy of AquaMaof