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Ace Aquatec wins a passage to India for innovation final

One iteration of the HSU. Each stunner is tailor-made to suit the needs of the client. Photo: Ace Aquatec.
One iteration of the HSU. Each stunner is tailor-made to suit the needs of the client. Photo: Ace Aquatec.

Dundee-based aquaculture technology supplier Ace Aquatec has been revealed as the second of three finalists in contention for the Global Aquaculture Alliance’s Innovation Award 2019.


Ace Aquatec has been chosen for its in-water electric stunner, which allows more humane slaughter of fish. The company has 20 clients using the system, including salmon farmer Scottish Sea Farms and Selcoth trout farm near Moffat.

The company’s representatives will receive a paid trip to Chennai in India to make a presentation about the stunner to an audience at the GAA’s GOAL conference, which runs from October 21-24.

The audience will decide which of the three finalists will win.

Mike Forbes: Increased harvest rates.
Mike Forbes: Increased harvest rates.

Lack of equipment

Ace Aquatec’s head of sales and marketing, Mike Forbes, told the GAA’s Advocate blog: “There has been a lack of equipment to help people farm their fish ethically when it came to slaughter.

“We saw stunning systems that damage the fish or don’t produce an even electrical field, meaning some fish get more stunned than others. So our goal was to create a more humane and efficient version of electric stunning that would leave fish unconscious for two-to-three minutes, enough time to bleed and kill the fish immediately or to put them onto ice so they’ll remain unconscious until they die.”

Forbes told the Advocate that clients reported increased harvesting rates as a result of using the device, branded the Humane Stunner Universal (HSU).

Doubled harvest rate

Scottish Sea Farms reportedly doubled its hourly harvest rate from 20 tonnes to 40 tonnes per hour.

Another customer, the Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association in Alaska, found the HSU allowed for gentler handling of fecund female fish, maximising the yield and quality of egg production.

Forbes refused to disclose the price of the HSU to the Advocate, saying only that it varies depending on the volume of fish being processed, the species and the salinity of the water. The units are also available to rent.

‘Very inventive’

John Forster, a GAA consultant specialising in fish welfare, told the Advocate that the HSU has been developed around the salmon farming industry and is likely to be out of reach to smaller farmers farming less valuable species.

“Ace Aquatec is the leading company when it comes to instant stunning prior to slaughter, and they’re obviously really good at using electricity in water,” he noted. “They’ve developed an electric fish that will deliver a shock when a seal bites into it, as a deterrent to seals. So, they’re very inventive. But the key in this situation will be how this technology can be applied to other species and smaller farmers at an affordable price point.”

Alternative feed ingredient producer Arbiom, based in North Carolina in the United States, was last week named as the first of the three finalists in contention for the Innovation Award in Chennai.

Arbiom’s wood-to-feed technology mimics the natural process of decomposition of wood. Microorganisms – yeast, bacteria or even fungus – feed off the nutrients in the wood before being processed into a powder-form single-cell protein (SCP) source for animals.