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Scottish Mackerel Factories, Norwegian Researchers Track Fish Health via RFID

The LF system, provided by RFID Solutions, is enabling researchers in Norway and factories on both coasts of the North Sea to track populations of mackerel being caught.
By Claire Swedberg
Jul 10, 2017

The Norwegian Institute of Marine Research (IMR) is managing populations of mackerel, as well as some spawning herring in parts of the Northeast Atlantic, using an RFID-based program that tracks the number of fish and their size and weight as they are caught and harvested in Scandinavia and the British Isles.

Recently, fish producers in Scotland have joined the growing number of participants in the program to better understand mackerel populations on both sides of the Northeastern Atlantic. Nearly every Scottish mackerel processing factory is now employing low-frequency (LF) RFID readers to identify tagged fish before processing begins, joining factories in Iceland and at the Faroe Islands that were already doing so. Approximately 160,000 mackerel have been tagged to date. In 2016, 800 of those tagged fish were detected at all participating factories.

IMR's Aril Slotte
The IMR project results thus far indicate that mackerel populations are healthy—a critical result, since the mackerel serves one of the primary seafood sources for Scandinavia, as well as for Great Britain. Norway funds the IMR project at a rate of approximately 4 million Norwegian krone a year ($478,000), while the goal has been to see other nations in the region begin including the technology at their own factories as well, to both access and share data.

The solution consists of LF RFID tags embedded in fish, with readers deployed at factories. The RFID-based data is gathered in the global fish species database known as FishBase. The system—including LF RFID tags, readers and specialized antennas—is provided by Norway's RFID Solutions. The software that interprets the collected read data and forwards it to the FishBase system is provided by Smart Sea System. The collected data helps IMR, better understand—and thus manage—the mackerel population.

The IMR is a Norwegian national research institute owned by the Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs. Its task is to advise industrial and government organizations regarding the ecosystems of the Barents Sea, the Norwegian Sea and the North Sea.

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