April 15, 2021

Taking the stress out of salmon transfers

Through a new grant, Skaginn 3X and R&D partner Matís are evaluating the potential to improve fish well-being and productivity margins through a new ValuePump offering

Through a new grant, Skaginn 3X and R&D partner Matís are evaluating the potential to improve fish well-being and productivity margins through a new ValuePump offering.


With the knowledge that stress levels in live fish increase the more that they’re handled, Skaginn 3X and research and development organization partner Matís and salmon producer Arctic Fish have been awarded a grant that will enable them to evaluate how best to move farmed Atlantic salmon while keeping their stress levels at a minimum.

Throughout the production cycle, salmon have to endure a variety of important operational measures, these include grading, vaccination, transportation and transfer to sea, as well as harvesting and transfer to processing plants. These movements can elevate the stress levels of live fish, and also require lengthy periods of time for them to make a full recovery.

As well as posing a challenge for fish welfare, an increase in stress hormones can speed up the rigor process, increase fillet contraction, and ultimately lead to reduced end-product quality.

There are financial implications too. For example, it has been independently calculated that in 2016, some 19% of farmed salmon died, mostly due to non-medical sea lice treatments (PwC Seafood Barometer 2017). This was equal to a total loss of NOK 10 billion in potential export value, with 70% of the CEOs surveyed estimating the cost of their lice treatments to be NOK 4 or more per kilo of fish – equating to NOK 5 billion annually.

The Skaginn 3X/ Matís project will therefore measure the potential benefits of applying Skaginn 3X’s ValuePump technology into the value chain, for which a 16-20-inch ValuePump is being developed. Rather than using vacuum pumps that have been the industry norm but which are regarded as stressful to salmon, ValuePump uses the Archimedes' principle of fluid mechanics whereby spiral turns create the necessary pressure to transport the fish from one procedure to another.

Skaginn 3X and Matís will use a digital thermometer to measure the temperatures and heartrates of the salmon that pass through the ValuePump. The partnership believes that aquaculture will take a giant leap forward if it’s found that the technology does indeed manage to reduce the stress levels in salmon, highlighting that with less stress during the pre-slaughter treatment, rigor can be delayed, thus reducing the negative economic effects.

Launched by Skaginn 3X in 2019, ValuePump was designed to expedite the transit of fisheries raw materials from one stage of the processing chain to another, while also conducting other essential procedures along the way. Its main functions include shortening the bleeding process, and speeding up chilling, as well as washing, disinfecting, freezing and boiling raw materials. Today, it’s widely used throughout the seafood industry, handling raw material sizes from a just few grams up to 10 kilos.

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