Drones and Artificial Intelligence in Aquaculture: Is High-tech the Future of Fishing


Technology has brought sweeping changes in almost all economic sectors.  However, the global fishing industry is lagging despite aquaculture or aquafarming being the fastest growing food industry in the world.  The growth is caused by the ever-increasing human population and the demand for protein.

Indeed the aquaculture market is forecasted to hit $87.6 billion by the end of 2025.  The main aquaculture markets include the US, Europe, China, Japan, and Russia.  Although the industry has been there for many centuries, it’s still young and growing.

However, major innovations are set to disrupt the aquaculture industry in various ways, including:

Robotic Cages

The majority of fish farmers complain of parasites and diseases which occur because of cramped conditions in their fish farms.  Because of these, fishing has become an industry with high production and maintenance costs but low yields.  However, the invention of aquapods or autonomous roaming robotic cages can solve the challenges of production, maintenance, and yields.

The downside of this challenge is that robotic cages have high upfront investment costs.  However, the benefits outweigh the initial investment costs.  For instance, fish grow in aquapods in the open sea, but robots are used to monitor and repair nets where necessary.  The method offers a more efficient and safer way of fish farming as well as operation management.


Drones and robots require advanced sensors when capturing videos, water pH, salinity, oxygen level, turbidity,  pollutants data collection, and underwater navigation.  Farmers must maintain a certain level of water temperature, pH, and oxygen depending on the fish type they’re farming.

Thanks to biosensors, today’s farmers can analyze these parameters effortlessly.  They can also help them monitor metabolism and heart rate, which assist them in creating an ideal environment for their aquaculture business and generating higher yields than they did with the traditional methods.

One of the advanced technologies in the fishing industry is eFishery.  It helps farmers monitor the hunger level of their fish in order to feed them accordingly.  Further, it helps them take necessary measures in order to improve their yields, thus making aquaculture a worthwhile business.


Technology is taking up some jobs that humans do in the fishing industry.  For instance, for many years, people have been monitoring offshore fish farms because the job requires skilled labor.  However, it’s very risky for humans and costly to maintain a worker there.

On the other hand, drones can do much better and at a reduced cost.  It can dive underwater many times to monitor the health of fish and the farms and inspect the nets.  In fact, there are many companies that have entered the aquafarming industry intending to analyze fish farms using sensor technology.

Additionally, drones can stream live videos to help farmers inspect the health of the aquatic organisms easily.  They also provide real-time data that big-data analysis can use to recognize patterns and notify farmers about maintenance and repair issues.  Others include environmental analysis and fish stock analysis which enable farmers to correct a problem before damaging the entire farm.

Artificial Intelligence     

Smart sensors are essential because they gather a lot of important data.  On the other hand, companies leverage the power of artificial intelligence to make data-based decisions.  It helps with predictive analysis that sensors alone can’t provide.

AI supports farmers in various ways, including detecting underwater pollution and notifying farmers before it harms their aquaculture business.  Because of this information, farmers send robots to rectify the environment.  The technology can help stop overexploitation of fish species and implement sustainable harvesting practices.


Other than artificial intelligence, technologies such as blockchain, virtual reality, and augmented reality are being used in the aquaculture industry.  The initial investment in these technologies is higher than conventional practices.  But they’re effective, and the cost reduces in the long run because of low maintenance and high yields.