A lab-on-chip fish welfare sensor for application in aquaculture
We propose using the Cortisol hormone, secreted from the fishes during stressful events, to provide ongoing monitoring of fish welfare while in their habitats. Instrumented aquaculture pens will allow operators to continuously be aware of threats to fish health, including harmful blooms, predators, and/or poachers. As Canadian aquaculture capital investments are remote and offshore, a low-cost and low-maintenance Cortisol sensor would be ideal for these sites. By utilizing lab-on-chip technology, we aim to provide a sensor that consumes minimal reagent per measurement permitting longer deployments. In this research project, we will perform appropriate de-risking activities to address the key questions that would enable a Lab-on-chip Cortisol sensor. These include reagent shelf-life/stability, microfluidic chip material compatibility, seawater matrix effects on accuracy of the chemistry, and proof-of-concept instrumentation. Such a sensor would provide much needed insight for safeguarding aquaculture investments and ensuring responsible stewardship of our farms around the planet.