Gone Fishin’! Both our family, and the Cisco UC Solution family.

September 13, 2011 - 3 Comments

Labor Day has been and gone. Apparently no one can wear white now and the fish have stopped biting. Well, the first bit might be true (not sure why) but don’t tell my son Adam about the second – he’s got the fishing bug! He got it from his mum, not from me. My wife Julie enjoyed fishing with her dad when she was younger, and is converting the rest of us. Not sure I’ll ever be a true aficionado myself, but it looks like our kids will.

Anyway, the video shows Adam’s excitement at being only one of two folks to catch fish that Labor Day weekend on Mickie’s Big Mack  (that’s the name of Mickey’s boat!).  The boat was full of fishermen and fisherwomen and fisherstories. I don’t know much about fishing, but when it came to my turn to tell a yarn folks were surprised that I knew about “superchill” (we had been discussing the Lake Tahoe water temperature earlier, before sun-up). What is it? well…  

Superchill is when the water temperature drops below zero degrees Celsius, and if you’re a fish farmer you’ll know that puts the fish in severe jeopardy. If the fish are disturbed during superchill, even slightly, they perish – a reaction that has mystified scientists and has caused losses of millions of dollars for fish farmers across the East Coast of America and elsewhere.

How did I know this? Well a few years ago Cooke Aquaculture – a manufacturer of good quality salmon  in New Brunswick, wanted to track the temperatures effectively in real-time. When temperatures at Cooke’s fish pens fall low enough to cause superchill, managers cease all regular activities, such as feeding the fish and sending divers into the cages for maintenance work until the temperature returns to a safe level.

I remember reading how Cooke tracks temperatures in its salmon pens using weather stations. The weather stations are located in the pens and are partially submerged in the water. The stations record both air and water temperature and relay that information through a wireless network back to data collection terminals on land.

At the time, Cooke’s IT solutions provider and Cisco Premier Certified Partner, Bulletproof Solutions Inc., began examining Cooke’s business processes to identify areas where unified communications could provide new efficiencies. The water temperature application immediately took prominence, since Cooke had already implemented Cisco IP phones for voice communications.

Before they implemented unified communications, managers were getting temperature data only once a day. “We didn’t think that was as effective as it could be, given how sensitive the fish are to temperature conditions,”  Bob Buchanan, Bulletproof’s chief operations officer (COO) told Cisco at the time. “We realized we could put that information on the Cisco Unified IP Phones to allow for more timely and accurate decisions to be made.”

I remember Cooke talking about real-time data: “In the past, we’d look at the temperature on the previous day and use that to guide our feed practices”. Those words were from Nitin Soni, Cooke’s chief information officer (CIO). “Now we can look at the information in real time – refreshed every three minutes. The health of our salmon stock is the foundation of our business and livelihood. Having this kind of data makes a huge difference to the business’ profitability.”  “We need to know how one part of the value chain might affect another, and we need that information in real time,” Nitin said. “The Cisco Unified IP Phones have become much more than communication devices for us. They allow us to make business-critical decisions based on current data that positively affects our company, enabling us to continue our strong growth and success in the industry.”

So that was it. The fisher-folk were impressed that Cisco could help fish farmers. I was impressed that my son (with a little help from his mum) had landed a 19 inch Mackinaw (a kind of lake trout). He was impressed that his mum cooked a tasty meal that night. And our two year old? She was just impressed that the Tahoe log cabin had a ‘big-girl’ bed for her that night!

We’ll be trying to get to the cabin one time more this year – as Marie Hatter so eloquently put it – “let’s not say it’s the end of summer; let’s say it’s the beginning of the season of the hearth”, (in Marie’s blog: Refreshing the Pro in Your Productivity). Mickey said to come back in the fall – the fish will be biting really well then!

“Good fishing” to you, if it’s only to your local supermarket to buy some chilled Cooke’s Salmon!


Fish Farm Upgrades Communications to Provide Critical Information: Cisco Unified Communications system proves a prize catch for Cooke Aquaculture.

Pdf version of above case study: Fish Farm Upgrades Communications to Provide Critical Information

As Above, but French pdf version:  Une pisciculture améliore ses communications pour mieux transmettre des informations essentielles

Watch how Cooke Aquaculture uses real time information to improve business efficiencies: Speakers: Nell Halse, VP Communications,  Cooke Aquaculture; Glen Cooke, CEO, Cooke Aquaculture; Randy Griffin, NB Saltwater Production Manager, Cooke Aquaculture; Laura Skodje, Business Analyst, Cooke Aquaculture; and Brantz Myers, Sales Business Development Manager, Cisco Canada.

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  1. Awesome memories preserved forever…. Video ads so much more to the experience and the ease of digital recording, editing, to uploading now makes these memories so easy to share. But kissing the fish?? ewwww Loved it!

  2. Peter, as always, an entertaining blog. I learned several things. But I do wonder something: relating back to my vacation, one of the excursions we took was to a salmon camp. They showed us the variety of ways the Alaska natives catch salmon (or caught) and all of those involved water that was less than 0 degrees C. Do you think there is a difference in terms of natural born vs farm bred salmon? Perhaps we should commission a study of the Grizzlies to determine which they favor?

    It was intriguing for me to see how the earlier manufacturers solved their problems, and how many of those practices exist today. Yet how they have adopted today as well.

    • Hi Mark – I think the big differences are that the farming activities (feeding, maintenance, fish health monitoring etc.) disturb the fish. The fish seem to survice the superchill and ‘blood-thickening’ effects of it if they’re not disturbed. So a more natural envirinment fishing probably gives less interference, but then those techniques only scale so far (local fisherfolk and grizzlies). If you’re a commercial concern I’m guessing the ‘leave-alone’ approach is probably required, even in Alaska, where you shared your vacation with us!