Vattenfall’s Fish Recognition Technology Offers Transparency and Information Sharing for Preventing Invasive Species

Vattenfall’s Fish Recognition Technology Offers Transparency and Information Sharing for Preventing Invasive Species

(IN BRIEF) Swedish energy company Vattenfall has used artificial intelligence (AI) to help its staff identify fish species in the Stornorrforsen hydro power plant’s fish ladder. The technology categorises and analyses fish, including farmed salmon released into the Umeälven River, to monitor species’ development over time. Providers of fish recognition technology are developing the AI algorithms to detect fish characteristics. The company hopes to refine the technology further and continue tracking fish movements at the site, including those of female fish.

(PRESS RELEASE) STOCKHOLM, 28-Feb-2023 — /EuropaWire/ —  Vattenfall, a Swedish government-owned multinational power company, announces that it is utilising artificial intelligence (AI) to identify fish at its Stornorrforsen hydro power plant, allowing its personnel to monitor, categorize, and analyze fish movements more accurately. The technology aims to manage fish traveling up and down the fish ladders that bypass hydro power plants and to monitor the evolution of species over time. Stornorrforsen, located in Umeälven River in northeast Sweden, is one of the country’s largest plants, and Vattenfall installed a new fish ladder here in 2010. The company has taken the first steps towards a fish recognition system to make it easier to track fish movements.

Although fish recognition technology has developed rapidly in recent years, gender recognition in spawning salmon remains a challenge. To track the number of females returning and to monitor their movements, personnel at Stornorrforsen currently perform gender recognition manually and visually. Vattenfall aims to further develop the technology to make it easier to distinguish between female and male salmon, particularly early in the season.

The AI system identifies fish based on various characteristics and can help Vattenfall monitor farmed salmon released into Umeälven River and their return rate. The company can also follow the wild salmon’s way to adjacent Vindelälven river.

Fish recognition technology developed by Vattenfall’s personnel at the Stornorrforsen hydro power plant in Sweden has shown great potential in detecting invasive species that threaten aquatic ecosystems. The technology could be used to monitor and analyse fish and their movements, making it easier to control which fish travel up and down fish ladders that bypass hydro power plants, and to monitor the evolution of species over a longer period of time. The goal is to make the technology available to anyone who needs it. The Vattenfall laboratory that works with fish recognition is transparent in its work, allowing other companies and industries to learn from their experiences. In addition, the website has more than 20,000 annotated images that anyone can use for creating new algorithms.

Patrik Andreasson, Specialist for Research & Development at Vattenfall says, “We worked out a way to determine the characteristics of salmon.

“And today we have working algorithms, which are really good at recognising size and the presence of fungal attacks, and at distinguishing whether the fish is wild or farmed, as seen by the clipped andipose fin on the salmon’s back.

“If we’re going to use algorithms instead of people, the algorithms have to be just as good. This is very difficult now, especially at the beginning of the season. We’ve made a first attempt to develop an AI that also recognises gender. It works, but not quite well enough yet. So we’ll continue developing it and give it a test run at the end of this season or at the beginning of next. This is an issue we will be working on throughout this year.

“We’ll be opening some Swedish watercourses, probably the Dalälven River first, to release wandering fish. However, we may also want to prevent invasive species such as black gobies from migrating up the watercourses. Though we don’t have a tangible project for this, we do have plans to use smart algorithms to release fish that are OK, but send back those that are not supposed to be there.

“It is a conscious choice on our part to be so open and accessible, a choice that everyone supports. As long as there is no competitive advantage to holding on to information, there is no reason to keep things secret, on the contrary. In the area of fish migration and large-scale hydro power, there is such sparse knowledge and so many opinions that we want new knowledge we learn to be passed on and increases the facts-based foundation.

“Such images are hard currency for anyone working with fish recognition. We have no intention of making this into a product. Instead, we are keen to make the material available to everyone.”

Related information

Smart algorithms for better fish migration

Media contact:

Mattias Dahlström
Press office
+46 8 739 50 10

SOURCE: Vattenfall AB


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