Integrated Research Platform for the Chilean Farmed Salmon Industry

Research tools for the digital age

Ausvet has introduced an innovative approach to health research in Chile, by creating an integrated research platform for the salmon industry.  Chile is the world’s second largest producer of farmed Atlantic salmon.  

Ausvet is leading a project of Integrated Epidemiological Studies on SRS and Caligus, two significant health issues currently facing producers, as part of the “Programa para la gestión sanitaria en la Acuicultura” which is supporting research into SRS and Caligus in the salmon industry.

consulting with fishThe goals of the Sanitary Program are threefold;

  • To reduce SRS and Caligus by understanding risk and protective factors
  • To reduce production losses and costs associated with these problems
  • To improve international market perceptions and increase the value of the Chilean product by reducing the use of antimicrobials.

Most of the information required to understand risk and protective factors for SRS and Caligus is already being recorded every day in company databases such as FishTalk (AKVA) and Mercatus (Steinsvik). This includes things like mortalities, treatments, management activities and environmental conditions.

The traditional approach to research is to choose a small number of sites, and collect detailed information from each one, using a questionnaire. Staff on the site copy the data from their database and provide it to the researcher. This is slow and wasteful and usually only answers one single issue or question.

Ausvet’s approach to research is to first build sustainable research infrastructure – a data platform from which all future research can be conducted.  We take a much more sustainable, long term view to industry research needs.  It saves money, time and effort and gives powerful results back to the industry more quickly on a limitless number of research questions into the future.

Ausvet’s goal is to build trust and partnerships with industry and to implement strong instruments which ensure security, privacy and good governance of the data. The vision will integrate all the data from the existing company databases into this single research platform. Automated tools mean that there is no extra work for the companies. Data is integrated from every site, so the analysis is much more powerful, and the results are applicable to the whole industry.  Already about half the industry have formally agreed to participate and are contributing data by means of weekly automated data transfers.

Ausvet plans to support the creation of a representative industry group with responsibility for the governance of the research platform. Each company continues to own its data, and the governance group will decide on how the data should be used (which research questions), which researchers should have access (and to what data), and who should have access to any results.

The Research Platform has been designed and developed to be purely an industry resource, offering commercial level data security to individual companies but allowing them to participate collaboratively in research without compromising their need for commercial confidentiality.  Whilst government bodies are not able to access any of the information held in the Platform, it will however be possible for industry to support government policy making by feeding to government agencies the results of this powerful industry level research.

The new anti-competition laws in Chile ensure that the Research Platform can only be used for health related issues and dictate that no company can access the detailed data from any other company – only the de-identified results of analysis of issues related to health management.

The project website can be visited at https://www.piisac.omnisyan.com