Salmon Farm Looks to Analytics to Stop Theft

Salmon Farm Looks to Analytics to Stop Theft

Salmon is Chile's second leading export product, and continued growth is expected. An industry that has always been one step ahead, its forward-thinking attitude is reflected in one of the industry's most recent security installations.

Trusal S.A., a leader in the Chilean aquaculture industry, has implemented video analytics to protect its salmon pools in Puerto Montt from threats approaching from sea and land. The second largest producer of farmed salmon after Norway, Chile experiences up to US$2 million a year in theft of salmon and salmon eggs. With 28 salmon pools and a total perimeter of 8,000 square meters, Trusal runs one of the country's major fish farms and was suffering significant losses from intruders, fishing boats and predators. Since installing ioimage video analytics, thefts have been reduced by 75 percent and manpower by 30 percent.

Theft occurs in two ways: internal night guards are blackmailed and even offered up to $1000 (equivalent to over one month's salary) to turn a blind eye and let thieves in and external, explained partner and installer Andres Dieterich, Project Manager of Technology & Systems. In the latter case, thieves enter the perimeter without the guards noticing the pools are too big and it is dark. It can also be hard to hear thieves approaching fish cages. In some cases, thieves approach by motorboat and in others, rowing boats. Investment in breeding salmon is very high: infrastructure, personnel, inoculation and feeding costs add up to 40 percent of the price of the salmon itself. Stolen salmon is sold on the black market for a high price.

Several logistical issues had to be taken into consideration in selecting an effective security system that would also minimize the incidence of false alarms. "The layout of the sprawling property makes a perimeter fence unfeasible," said Dieterich. "The solution had to be capable of detecting intrusion by boats and unauthorized persons, while differentiating between marine predators and harmless small animals entering the perimeter.Since surveillance was to be carried out over both land and sea, variable environmental factors such as precipitation and wind velocity needed to be addressed as well. Ambivalent weather conditions and wind can cause uncontrolled camera movement. One of the most common parameters that affect detection is the rain that forms a mirror on the camera lens."

Thermal cameras are directed to the pools that are in the sea and identify people or boats that come close to the perimeter by sea. Trusal does not use radar technology, as it does not provide visual verification and is inefficient because of the large number of false alarms and repetitive viewing of radar monitors. False alarms can be caused by, among others, rain waves and walruses.

"ioimage offered the only solution that could deal with all of these problems with a single installation," said Dieterich. "It gives us a high level of security in a complex setting with an exceptionally low false alarm rate. Some salmon farms utilize radar technology, which is ineffective without video verification. The system has reduced the need for operator attention to a monitor, enabling security staff to attend to other functions."

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