What’s an aquaculture innovation?

Examples include technologies that mitigate the occurrence of animal diseases or parasites, or that reduce or eliminate the use of antibiotics to treat animals; technologies that improve production efficiencies at the hatchery or farm levels while mitigating environmental impact; advances in offshore or land-based recirculation technologies; novel feed ingredients; reductions in carbon footprint through improved energy efficiency or regeneration; and social programs designed to improve living and working conditions at the farm or processing levels.

Who is eligible to apply?

Both individuals and companies performing activities related to aquaculture may submit applications. Third parties may also submit an application on behalf of an individual or company.

How do I apply?

The application deadline for the 2021 competition has passed. Applications for the 2022 competition will be accepted beginning in the spring of 2022.

How are the finalists determined?

In the first round of judging, seven judges narrow the list of applicants to nine. The judges are GSA’s Dan Lee and George Chamberlain and current and former GSA Standards Oversight Committee (SOC) members Patrick Blow of Marks & Spencer, Alejandro Buschmann of i-mar Research and the Development Center of Coastal Resources and Environments, Lukas Manomaitis of the U.S. Soybean Export Council, Dawn Purchase of the Marine Conservation Society and Michael Tlusty of the University of Massachusetts-Boston. In the second round of judging, the 12-member SOC selects three finalists.

Who are the finalists for the 2021 competition?

This year’s finalists are Ed Rudberg, CEO of Nucleic Sensing Systems, for the Tracker, a digital-droplet PCR desinged to detect biological issues in aquaculture environments, improving productivity; Nathan Pyne-Carter, CEO of Ace Aquatec, whose Acoustic Startle Response and Electric Startle Response is a targeted predator deterrent for fish farmers that does no harm to marine mammals; and Aaron Pannell, managing director of FlipFarm Systems, a semi-automated oyster-farming system that turns over cages with minimal human effort, saving on labor. They were selected from a pool of 39 applicants from 24 countries.

Who won 2021 competition?

By attendee vote at the eighth and final GOAL 2021 virtual event on Nov. 17, Aaron Pannell of New Zealand’s FlipFarm Systems was selected as the winner of the 2021 Global Aquaculture Innovation Award. Here are all of the competition’s winners:


Aaron Pannell, FlipFarm Systems, New Zealand

Innovation: FlipFarm Systems is a New Zealand company that developed a semi-automated method for turning oyster-growing cages over with minimal human effort. The system, in which Hexcyl Pro baskets are connected to a backbone that rolls up on the side of a harvesting vessel, saves on the backbreaking labor associated with oyster aquaculture. It also helps provide an ideal environment for oyster growth and conditioning as well as the ability to efficiently control fouling levels, pests and predators. The system is adaptable to diverse growing environments and is now used by more than 70 farmers in 12 countries worldwide.
Responsible Seafood Advocate article: New Zealand company builds a transformational, semi-automated oyster growing system that has changed what ‘working’ for the company means

Simao Zacarias


Simão Zacarias, University of Stirling, Scotland

Innovation: Simão Zacarias examined the common — and, in animal-welfare circles, controversial — shrimp-hatchery practice of unilateral eyestalk ablation. His research debunked the consensus that the practice results in higher egg production and demonstrated that it actually escalates disease vulnerability. In laboratory testing, postlarvae and juveniles from non-ablated Pacific white shrimp broodstock showed higher survival rates when they were challenged with two key diseases. He, Zacarias exhibited that a similar egg production rate can be attained without resorting to eyestalk ablation by giving broodstock, in their pre-maturation stage, high quality, nutritious feed.
Sponsor: Lineage Logistics (formerly Preferred Freezer Services)
Responsible Seafood Advocate article: Researcher proves eyestalk ablation is unnecessary and increases vulnerability to disease

Mike Forbes Ace Aquatec


Mike Forbes, Ace Aquatec, Scotland

Innovation: Ace Aquatec’s in-water electric stunning device is designed to slaughter fish more humanely. Its Humane Stunner Universal (HSU) is a water-filled pipe lined with electrodes and fish pumped through the pipe are immediately rendered unconscious by the electricity in the water. Each HSU is designed for its particular operating site, be it cage-side harvesting on a boat or barge, a box conveyor belt design for crustaceans, a truck or a land-based operation. The size of the device varies according to the location, with pipes that up to eight meters long to ones confined to a two- or three-meter space.
Sponsor: Preferred Freezer Services
Responsible Seafood Advocate article: Scottish company’s in-water stunning device promises a more humane slaughter


Zach Stein, Osmo Systems, United States

Innovation: Osmobot is a water quality monitoring system that uses optical sensing technology to allow farmers to monitor their water quality online. The self-contained sensor system monitors water quality 24 hours a day, delivering results straight to farm managers’ smartphones. It doesn’t require any special expertise to operate, it self-calibrates, and according to the company it costs 90 percent less than any other automated monitoring systems currently on the market.
Sponsor: Skretting
Responsible Seafood Advocate article: Silicon Valley startup eyes U.S., Ecuador markets for water quality sensor ‘Osmobot’

Walt Rakitsky of TerraVia


Walt Rakitsky, Corbion (formerly TerraVia), United States

Innovation: TerraVia’s AlgaPrime™ DHA aquaculture feed ingredient has been manufactured at a facility in Brazil since 2014, running off the steam generated by a sugarcane mill, as part of a joint venture with Bunge Oils. The microalgae is fermented, converting sugars into oils and other ingredients. Already being used by a farmed salmon producer in Chile, AlgaPrime is a perfect complement to traditional aquaculture feed ingredients that will enrich the fish’s omega-3 fatty acid levels.
Sponsor: Preferred Freezer Services
Responsible Seafood Advocate article: Aquafeed ingredient AlgaPrime wins GSA Innovation Award

Karen Pittman


Karin Pittman, University of Bergen, Norway

Innovation: Quantidoc’s mucosal mapping technology is the commercialization of Pittman’s fish biology research, which employs stereology to measure and better understand mucous on gill, gut and skin tissues — the first line of defense for fish. These tissues are crucial in the fight against aquatic diseases and parasites like sea lice, a major challenge for the salmon-farming industry. The application was submitted by Quantidoc CEO Ole Jacob Myre.
Sponsor: Preferred Freezer Services
Responsible Seafood Advocate article: Mucosal mapping architect wins aquaculture innovation award


Werner Jost, Camanor Produtos Marinhos Ltda., Brazil

Innovation: Camanor’s AquaScience® technology and its high-density, land-based facility in Natal, Brazil, recycles water for multiple production cycles of Pacific white shrimp while preventing environmental degradation and the use of chemicals or antibiotics.
Sponsor: Preferred Freezer Services
Responsible Seafood Advocate article: High-density shrimp producer wins innovation award

Rodrigo Prado of Usonic


Rodrigo Prado, USONIC Ltda., Chile

Innovation: USONIC’s innovation involves the use of ultrasound to control Chilean sea lice (Caligus rogercresseyi) infestations. In numerous trials, the company showed that the application of ultrasound underwater, directly in fish pens, has a lethal effect on juvenile stages of Caligus rogercresseyi. Concurrently, the application of ultrasound has no affect on salmon or marine mammals due to the low power and frequencies used—only 20 KHz per transmitter.
Sponsor: Preferred Freezer Services
GSA announcement: Chilean sea lice solution wins Global Aquaculture Innovation Award

Dr. Sagi accepts the award at GOAL 2013 in Paris, France.


Amir Sagi, Ben Gurion University, Israel

Innovation: Dr. Sagi’s innovation involves a novel biotechnology application to produce all-male populations of the giant freshwater prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) through temporal RNA interference.
Sponsor: Novus International
Responsible Seafood Advocate article: Monosex culture of prawns through temporal androgenic gene silencing