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Monitoring Aquaculture Using
Satellites and Sensors

The problem

Despite water comprising around 70% of Earth’s surface, only 2.5% of that water is fresh and only 1% of that freshwater is easily accessible. Billions of people around the world depend on these relatively small water bodies to satisfy basic needs, build industry, and provide jobs. Yet rivers and lakes are the most degraded ecosystems in the world. Our reliance on freshwater bodies is both a source of this degradation and the reason every step needs to be taken to monitor, mitigate and protect them.  

Aquaculture began at least 4000 years ago and is depended on more than ever for the production of aquatic animals and crops for food, trade, and to restore wild populations, with most fish having been cultivated in controlled or semi-natural conditions, rather than captured, since at least 1950. In Uganda alone there are over 12,000 aquacultural farmers and these farms support the livelihoods of another 20,000 people. These farms provide food, can be used to help strengthen the wild fish population, and have helped to make fish a significant export that’s been worth over $100 million annually since 2005. Understanding, learning from, and acting on the effect of these fish farms on the water in which they are located and the effect of the water on these fish farms are imperative to a sustainable future.  

What is Astrosat doing?

Astrosat have teamed up with Aqsen Innovations to conduct a feasibility study on using in-situ sensors combined with satellite data to monitor water quality in and around fish farm cages in Uganda. Supported by ESA, H2Orb will investigate the potential to use Astrosat’s  proprietary geospatial data visualisation platform ORBIS to display a range of environmental metrics that may impact fish cultivation as well as environmental changes that may be caused by fish farms.

How we are doing it

Aqsen Innovations is using the innovative Aqua-sense sensors to take measurements inside the cages while Astrosat is using its impressive expertise of satellite data to explore options for monitoring indicators of photosynthesising algae productivity, nutrient availability and trophic state, water clarity, dissolved organic carbon, water surface temperature, water level, and waves. This complementary combination of Astrosat and Aqsen Innovation’s technologies is aimed at providing real-time, specific and insightful information to allow farmers to enact interventions early and therefore, reduce the risk of loss of livestock.  

Fish farmers need this information to maintain good health of their livestock, create long-term business sustainability, and to comply with regulations in an economically efficient way. Simultaneously, government bodies and academic institutions need this information to gain deeper understanding of the interaction between the environment and the economies dependent on it, and provide regulatory advice that promote sustainability.   

Who is involved?

Aqsen Innovations, based in London, are dedicated to Tech for Good. Their primary focus is on supporting United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6 (Clean Water) and they indirectly also support SDG Goal 3 Health and Hygiene.  

Astrosat’s motto is ‘Every Problem has a Space Solution’. They specialise in using Earth Observation and data science to alleviate a range of problems including climate change, societal issues and how these problems interact with business needs and CSR objectives.