This proposal consists of a demonstration action aimed at evaluating the applicability of acoustic communication and networking underwater technologies to the environmental monitoring and the automation of underwater fish farms. Traditional fish farms are till now mostly manually operated and their management requires the farmers to pay attention to a lot of factors for success, without having full control over the environment. Being usually placed several miles offshore at suitable depths their management can be critical in certain sea and weather conditions. The same holds true for the required environmental control, that it is usually accomplished manually by collecting samples of water at different depths on a periodic basis to be later analysed in chemical labs.
However, too sparse measurements of those variables related to water quality can lead to either (or both) environment pollution or loss of profit. It is also worth remarking that the growing global demand for seafood will lead the marine aquaculture to expand and move further offshore, into the deeper waters of the open oceans, where the demand for sophisticated monitoring and automation systems for their management will be more considerable.
This proposal represents a first preliminary step towards a full monitoring of a typical underwater fish farm and consists of using the networking and the Internet access functionalities provided by the Re-Deployable SUNSRISE Testing Facility to build up a four-node underwater sensors network for environmental monitoring. Each node, to be located in the fish farm at suitable depths, will be equipped with a SeaModem, a low-cost acoustic modem produced by the Italian company AppliCon that already has a portion of the SUNSET networking functionalities integrated in its firmware, and with multiparametric probes used to sense the physical and chemical variables of interest. A fifth node located on a floating buoy on the sea surface will act as a data collecting central station. It will be equipped with both an acoustic SeaModem modem and with an 3G/4G modem so as to establish a wireless Internet connection to the sensors network allowing remote interrogation and data exchange with a webserver database, which will be populated with the sensed data and used for consultation and further elaborations.