Water quality monitoring is a critical aspect of aquaculture management, as poor water quality can lead to disease outbreaks, reduced growth rates, and even death of farmed aquatic species. Methods used in aquaculture to monitor water quality have improved over the years, leading to more data becoming available to managers, which in turn improves management decision making. Remote monitoring of water quality through sensors connected to telemetry systems is one such innovation. Telemetry systems transmit data wirelessly to a central location, where it can be analysed and acted upon in real-time.
Jervis Bay, located in New South Wales (NSW), experiences occasional water quality issues due to rainfall runoff which adversely affects mussel farming in the area. In collaboration, the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and South Coast Mariculture (SCM) deployed two telemetry buoys equipped with water quality and current profiling instrumentation. Researches from UTS will now be able to model water quality activity and farmers from SCM will be able to react to events in real-time. The telemetry systems have the potential to improve management practices and ultimately productivity of the farms.
Advancements in telemetry systems have led to the creation of the underwater acoustic modem. In earlier iterations, issues arose around signal quality between the underwater modems and base telemetry system. Point to point transmission would fail in high energy conditions. An innovative wireless underwater communication system was developed that utilises a patented mesh network with interdependent nodes, each capable of receiving and transmitting data from other nodes. The signal quality in high energy conditions were tested in a Norwegian salmon farm owned by Lerøy with remarkable results. Such a network could represent a new way to expand the capabilities of legacy telemetry systems within aquaculture industries.
Overall, the use of telemetry systems to improve management decision making is becoming common in the global aquaculture community. Technology in this space is improving with every reiteration, making it easier for managers to implement innovative systems. With improved water quality monitoring comes smarter management practices and increased productivity.