The Launch of LPAS to Combat Harmful Algae Blooms: A Game-Changer in Aquaculture Monitoring


Aquaculture Industry Faces Increased Threat from Harmful Algal Blooms

Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) have emerged as a significant threat to aquaculture operations worldwide, with devastating impacts on fish stocks. In some cases, a single bloom can wipe out an entire farm’s fish population, leading to severe financial losses. To combat this growing threat, aquaculture farms have traditionally relied on routine, daily monitoring to detect and respond to HABs early. However, this approach comes with significant challenges.

Challenges in Current Algal Monitoring

The conventional methods for detecting harmful algae require considerable time and expertise, often pulling team members away from other essential duties. Identifying microscopic algae is complex, with potential for misidentifications and errors, even among trained professionals. Additionally, as individual farms or companies often handle monitoring independently, the lack of standardisation across the industry complicates the process further.


“LPAS provides an extremely valuable tool for farmers to combat the rising threat of Harmful Algae Blooms”


An Innovative Solution for Aquaculture Safety

To address these challenges, OTAQ has developed the Live Plankton Analysis System (LPAS), an automated algal identification system that employs artificial intelligence (AI) to identify and quantify harmful algae. OTAQ has collaborated with Canadian machine learning experts Blue Lion and algae specialists, supported by the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC), CENSIS, and the University of Aberdeen.

Global Industry Collaboration and Data Collection

To ensure LPAS’s effectiveness, OTAQ embarked on a global image collection program, collaborating with over 20 aquaculture market partners, including industry bodies, academia, and farmers in Scotland, Ireland, Chile, Norway, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. This initiative resulted in the collection of over 80,000 live images, providing a robust dataset to train the AI model within LPAS for accurate and consistent identification and quantification of harmful algae.


Beta Testing and Industry Feedback

Following the extensive data collection, OTAQ initiated a comprehensive Beta testing phase, deploying 20 LPAS Beta units to various sites during peak algae seasons. This testing provided crucial feedback, allowing OTAQ to refine the system and ensure its compatibility with marine farm environments.


LPAS: Integration and Functionality in Aquaculture Monitoring

The LPAS has been designed with direct input from industry stakeholders to ensure it meets the unique demands of marine farm environments. This innovative system integrates seamlessly with existing farm infrastructure, considering current industry practices and environmental factors.

LPAS streamlines on-site operations, reducing the time commitment required from farm teams while boosting accuracy in identifying and quantifying harmful algal species. By standardising the monitoring of harmful algae, LPAS helps farms better manage the risks associated with HABs.


Key Features and Benefits of LPAS

LPAS offers a comprehensive set of features and benefits that make it a standout solution for aquaculture monitoring:

  • Automatic Detection of Harmful Algae: LPAS can accurately detect 15 different target harmful algal groups. Its capabilities are continuously expanding through ongoing training and new phytoplankton images.
  • Accurate Identification and Quantification: In addition to identification, LPAS provides counts and calculates the concentration of each algal group. All results are captured and logged within the LPAS analysis software for further examination.
  • Detailed Data Recording and Analysis: The LPAS software records and presents collected phytoplankton results, allowing users to analyse and compare current data with historical trends.
  • Customisable Alert Thresholds: Users can set personalised alert thresholds based on the concentration of specific algal groups, providing a flexible and tailored approach to monitoring.
  • High-Resolution Imagery: LPAS records high-resolution images of collected water samples, which can be used for both AI-based and manual analysis. This feature enhances accuracy and helps validate the AI model’s results.
  • Integrated Identification Guide: LPAS includes a comprehensive guide and measurement tools to assist operators in identifying all phytoplankton, including those not yet in the AI model.
  • Secure Data Access: Users can securely access results, history, and images locally on the LPAS system or remotely via a cloud portal, providing flexibility and ease of access to important data.


With these features and benefits, LPAS represents a powerful tool for aquaculture farms to combat the growing threat of harmful algae and improve the safety and sustainability of their operations.

A Transformative Impact on Aquaculture Safety

OTAQ believes LPAS represents a breakthrough in aquaculture safety, offering a practical solution for detecting harmful algae, saving time, enhancing accuracy, and providing a standardised approach across the aquaculture industry. This technology is poised to play a vital role in reducing the risk of catastrophic fish kill events caused by HABs.

Recognition and Future Outlook

LPAS has garnered significant attention within the aquaculture industry, earning a nomination for the Aquaculture Award for Innovation at the 2024 Aquaculture Awards in Aviemore, Scotland. As OTAQ continues to expand the capabilities of LPAS and collaborate with industry partners, the system is set to become a cornerstone in safeguarding aquaculture against the escalating threat of Harmful Algal Blooms.

Contact us today to learn how LPAS can transform your aquaculture monitoring, ensuring a safer and more sustainable future for your operations. Don’t wait for the next harmful algal bloom to threaten your business. Act today to protect your farm, your fish, and your future with LPAS.