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Ace Aquatec's electric mort. Photo: Ace Aquatec
Ace Aquatec's electric mort. Photo: Ace Aquatec

Award-winning aquaculture supplier Ace Aquatec has come up with a way of chasing off hard-of-hearing seals that aren't put off by acoustic deterrents. The company has developed an "electric fish" that gives a seal a shock when it touches it.

Nathan Pyne-Carter with a cheque for NOK100,000 awarded at Aqua Nor in August. Photo: Fish Farming Expert.
Nathan Pyne-Carter with a cheque for NOK100,000 awarded at Aqua Nor in August. Photo: Fish Farming Expert.

"We have got some new electric fish that have just gone out, and are doing very well," said managing director Nathan Pyne-Carter. "It's basically a fish that looks like a mort in the bottom of the nets and when the seal tries to grab it it gets an electric shock.

"It is a new thing, we just came up with it three or four months ago. We have been deploying it with our acoustic systems and it has been very good.

"It's been tested and is now in full deployment. We put it out on our rental sites to back up any systems where we need some extra incentives for the seals to stay away. We are ramping up the production of it now and deploying it alongside the acoustic systems.

"It's quite good if you are on a site where you might suspect there is an older seal where its hearing might not be quite as good as the young seals. If you have a system like that it ensures you have a full deterrent coverage."

Responsible deterrent system

Ace Aquatec, which recently moved its headquarters from Dingwall to Dundee, received a SMART R&D award in 2013 to develop a responsive and responsible deterrent system.

Its randomised algorithm was developed to avoid potential deafness in seals by avoiding continuous sound played in one frequency at loud volumes. In addition sonar triggers detect the approach of predators, reducing the amount of noise that can be heard by other wildlife including whales and porpoises.

The company also supplies electric nets to further deter predators which may suffer from natural deafness.

'Potential to transform welfare'

Ace Aquatec won the NOK 100,000 (£10,000) Innovation Award at Norway's Aqua Nor trade show in Trondheim in August. The company, which was short-listed along with two Norwegian innovators, was given the award for its in-line fish stunner, which knocks out fish just metres from the holding pen, allowing more humane slaughter and less potential damage to the product.

“It is believed that the system has the potential to transform welfare and efficiencies in aquaculture and mariculture worldwide for fish and crustaceans,” the Aqua Nor jury said.