A former Bridgewater high school student along with his former classmates and others in the area are buoying a growing fisheries and aquaculture technology company now based in Dartmouth. Aleksandr Stabenow of LaHave, who graduated from Park View High School in 2008, is the co-founder and chief technical officer of Sedna Technologies. “I am proud to be from the South Shore and would love to be able to acknowledge the people and educators who guided and pushed me along the way,” Stabenow told LighthouseNOW in an email. The company he helped found in his LaHave home touts seafood supply chain software “made easy.” It has seven full-time employees, including Shaemus MacDonald, chief executive officer and Stabenow’s older brother, Kerrigan, who also attended Park View. Its technical lead, Moira Frier, lives in Cherry Hill. Another Park View graduate, Charlemagne Tremblay of Chester, is Sedna’s research engineer. The company has earned the attention of governments, gaining funding from Innovocorp, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans. As with for other companies, business slowed down during the COVID-19 pandemic, however Sedna currently has more than 100 customers, 70 per cent of which are on Canada’s East Coast, with the rest in the U.S., New Zealand and Australia. “And we’re putting a lot of focus into Europe right now.” There are “huge applications” for the aquaculture industry there,” Stabenow reports. From Park View, Stabenow went on to graduate with a degree in business administration from St Francis Xavier University in Antigonish. Following university, he travelled to Guatemala, where he worked with the Campesino Committee of the Highlands, an organization that aims to defend the rights of workers on large coffee, sugar and cotton plantations. He assisted a team responsible for the procurement, production, and global exporting of organic coffee, organic honey and macadamia nuts, and was responsible for researching new methods of financing for local development projects. Upon returning to Canada, a year or so later, Stabenow focused on developing and implementing digital solutions to automate core business functions at companies in both Canada and the U.S., including a cannibas company. But it was always in the back of his mind to return to Nova Scotia to do the same in his home province, and in 2018 he did so. “I’m very passionate about where I grew up. I have a lot of respect for the community.” He teamed up with Shaemus MacDonald, a university friend with a masters degree in aquatic resource management who is a commercial fisherman. They discussed how technology could improve the seafood supply chain, and co-founded Sedna. MacDonald became the company’s chief executive officer. According to Stabenow, historically Nova Scotia’s fishing industry has focused on quantity rather than quality. “Delivery, volume. I think that’s where the industry kind of was.” Stabenow believed the insights that he gained in the cannibas industry could be applied to the fisheries and aquaculture, such as tracking the quality of the product with sensors. Stabenow notes that some harvesters are out in Southwest Nova Scotia for up to three days at a time, accummulating up to 9,000 pounds (4,082 kilograms) of live lobster. “That can be $90,000 worth of product for them.” And while they have systems in their boats to air-ate and pump water to make sure oxygen is flowing, Sedna has developed sensors to go in the live wells to alert the harvesters when there’s an issue with water quality. “There’s lots of examples where harvesters have lost a good portion of their shipment because something went wrong and they weren’t notified,” says Stabenow. In addition to water quality monitoring, Sedna says its technology is able to track inventory volumes, purchases, such as fuel, bait and other supplies, as well as sales. It helps eliminates a lot of paperwork, and is able to reconcile accounts and pay harvesters directly into heir bank accounts. According to Stabenow, the pandemic has served notice that Sedna’s technology is essential. “Because companies were having less people go into the plants and manage things, the sensors are automating that process.” At the same time, the former Park View student is hopeful the fisheries industry is starting to pick up again and the trajectory for moving forward is there. Before too long, he suggests, “we’ll be back on track to expanding at an accelerated rate.”
How Technology is Transforming the Seafood Supply Chain
Technology is vastly changing how companies around the world are operating, and the seafood industry is no exception. Over the years, the usage of sensors, computer networks, and artificial intelligence have allowed for increased traceability and data analysis throughout the seafood supply chain. Through this, companies can find inefficiencies in their operations which allows them to serve their customers better.
One area that is being improved by technology is traceability, the ability to trace products from their origin to the point of sale. There are several benefits of increasing traceability in seafood supply chains. First of all, it allows for the verification of a sustainable origin and process. This is becoming increasingly important as more retailers and consumers are becoming concerned about how socially and environmentally responsible their products are and are willing to pay premium prices to maintain that standard. Additionally, traceability allows companies to prove their innocence when wrongly accused of a food safety issue which will prevent penalties and damage to their reputation.
Traditionally traceability in the seafood industry takes its form on paper. In some cases, traceability is maintained through barcodes that can be scanned along the supply chain. Despite the wide use of these methods, there are inefficiencies in both such as human error and labour costs. However, there is a new method that uses modern RFID technology to address these issues. RFID or Radio-frequency identification consists of tags that can be used to track seafood crates from the start of the supply chain to the end with electromagnetic fields at various stops along the way that can identify the tags. This means that crates can be tracked automatically when brought into storage, shipping, or processing plants without the need for scanning or tracking with paper. With Sedna’s Shop Floor Application this hardware comes bundled with software for handheld devices that allows users to easily track the movement of inventory.
Traceability isn’t the only aspect of the seafood supply chain that has the potential to benefit from technology. Sensor technology also allows the temperature of seafood in storage and shipment to be monitored. Vital characteristics of water storage tanks such as temperature, ammonia, ammonium, pH levels, and light can also be monitored. For all of the above attributes, Sedna provides the hardware and software to be able to view them in real-time and be notified if they reach potentially dangerous levels. This can help fix problems before they result in losses.
There is an additional hidden power that comes along with the implementation of technology-based solutions to traceability and quality monitoring: both greatly increase the ease of and capacity for data analytics. By having technology integrated along the entirety of the supply chain that is constantly collecting data in real-time, the quantity of data to be used in analysis is dramatically increased compared to traditional methods. This means that the extent to which inefficiencies can be discovered and improvements can be made is increased as well, ultimately resulting in better business and higher profit.
While the advancement and implementations of technology have greatly improved business’ operations, perhaps the most influential is the collection and analysis of data. We’ve already seen the impact data analysis has in other industries. For example, algorithmic trading in the finance sector or medical imaging in health institutions. In our world of “big data”, it is important to use the tools we have to make the best decisions we can.
As technology is becoming more prevalent in the seafood industry, it is clear it is essential for the future of companies. From improved traceability to getting temperature data in real-time, technology is transforming the seafood supply chain and the increased capacity for data analysis makes it all the more important. As our society continues to change and evolve, so do the techniques and operations we rely on. As long as we are ready to adapt, the possibilities are endless.
Needless to say the seas have been turbulent in the seafood industry over the past few months with the emergence of COVID-19. Beginning in December with Asia closing down and the U.S. just starting to close down, it has left many stakeholders within the industry wondering what to do next. Although it is difficult to predict when this crisis will end, we have been working diligently with our clients on how to best leverage our technologies and services during this time.
Most companies in the seafood industry have had to scale back operations as well as lay off workers. The reason for this is that there is less day to day work to do in terms of inventory management and order fulfilment. However, there is still product to be monitored in live holding tanks as well as processed products in freezers and fridges. Facilities are having to hold products in larger volumes and for a longer period of time, Sedna’s water quality solution and cold chain monitoring have been key in maintaining efficient quality control. With safety being the number one concern for companies at this time, our remote monitoring solutions have empowered our clients to work from home with only having to go to the facility if they are notified of an issue. This has allowed our clients to alleviate stress levels when reducing a workforce and still being confident that their product is safe and sound.
Taking stress off of labour operations is one of the assets we have been providing. Additionally, company management is using this time to increase efficiencies internally to prepare for the upswing on the other side of this downturn. From production planning to inventory management, leaders of seafood organizations are looking at how they can become more effective and efficient. With our cloud based software our clients are able to review past years productions in real time with their entire team from the comfort of their home.
Using this time to visualize new opportunities is essential, this is why we have been busy working one on one with our clients to ensure their operations continue to run smoothly during these times. Our cloud based ecosystem not only allows our clients to collaborate but also allows us to provide ongoing insight and planning for when this crisis ends.
To learn more about how we can help your organization now and in the future, please feel free to reach out to one of our representatives at (902) 903-6424 or contact us on our website.
Ocean start-up companies to develop new technologies, create jobs in the region with the help of the Government of Canada February 12, 2020 – Dartmouth, NS – Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
Ocean technology is part of the broader oceans sector, which has long been a significant source of value to local and international economies. With the natural advantage of having one of the most abundant ocean resources in the world, Atlantic Canada’s ocean sector is thriving with small and medium-sized companies in the ocean startup ecosystem generating new technologies, clean resources, and good middle-class jobs.
Innovating Atlantic Canada’s ocean economy
Today, three Nova Scotia-based organizations announced they are undertaking new projects to further the momentum in the ocean sector, bring new employment to the Greater Halifax area and strengthen Canada’s position as a global leader in sustainable ocean practices.
The Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and Member of Parliament for South Shore – St. Margarets, today announced Government of Canada contributions totaling $1,275,502 to the three projects. Darren Fisher, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and Member of Parliament for Dartmouth – Cole Harbour, also participated in today’s announcement. This announcement was made on behalf of the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, and the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.
“Strong regional economies are essential for Canada’s success and sustainability. Our regional development agencies are there to help businesses and innovators grow, succeed and create good jobs for Canadians. Our government is making investments that will enable communities and businesses in all regions of the country. This will help our vibrant communities big and small reap benefits while showcasing Canada’s brand, centred on shared values of diversity and equality.”
– The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for ACOA
“The ocean is a new economic frontier. In a little more than a decade, the global ocean economy is forecasted to double in size and create tremendous new employment opportunities, innovations and economic growth. Our government recognizes this huge potential and we are proud to support businesses that are developing real, sustainable solutions that can create prosperity for years to come.”
– The Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and Member of Parliament for South Shore – St. Margarets
“More than half of Canada’s $30-billion ocean economy and 350,000 jobs are anchored in Atlantic Canada.Encouraging the continued growth of Atlantic Canada’s ocean technology sector helps Nova Scotian entrepreneurs and companies grow, succeed and provide good jobs here at home.”
– Darren Fisher, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and Member of Parliament for Dartmouth – Cole Harbour
The Nova Scotia Innovation Hub is committed to building a more prosperous and sustainable future by fostering innovation in the oceans, forestry, solid waste, and agriculture sectors. We are proud to partner with ACOA and the National Research Council to support the scale up of DeNova’s sustainable protein production. Their innovative business model is well-aligned with our goal of creating real value in Nova Scotia through the growth of leading edge, bio-based businesses. This is a great day for the growing bioeconomy in Nova Scotia, and we are looking forward to working with DeNova on this exciting project.
– Rod Badcock, Executive Director Nova Scotia Innovation Hub
“Many graduates are building their futures in Nova Scotia, and their new perspectives and innovative ideas help businesses grow and succeed. This internship will expose students to the unique career opportunities in our province’s oceans sector, and will show employers the value that young people can bring to their organizations.”
– The Honourable Labi Kousoulis, Nova Scotia Minister of Labour and Advanced Education
“We appreciate the support that ACOA, NRC, and the Nova Scotia Innovation Hub are providing DeNova, and their belief in our team and our technology. We believe that DeNova’s sustainable protein can become a significant global player in the expanding alternative proteins market and will contribute to the sustainability of our oceans and more environmentally sound aquaculture practices.”
– Brianna Stratton, Chief Executive Officer, DeNova Inc.
“The ocean technology sector in Nova Scotia is thriving. New companies like DeNova and SEDNA are launching and scaling quickly, and long-standing ocean technology companies are growing new export markets and hiring talented Nova Scotians. COVE is pleased to be working with ACOA and the Nova Scotia Department of Labour & Advanced Education to bring needed new employees and entrepreneurs to this growing sector of the economy through enhanced youth training, mid-career transition planning and through attraction of new residents to the region.”
– Jim Hanlon, Chief Executive Officer, Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship
“Having support from ACOA allows us to invest the time and resources we need in order to bring our innovations to market as well as further advance our R&D and identify ways in which we can improve our ocean economy locally and globally.”
– Sheamus MacDonald, Chief Executive Officer, Sedna Technologies Inc.
Ocean technology focuses on creating or providing technologies for marine applications above and below the water and is a vital contributor to Atlantic Canada’s economy, providing more than 350,000 jobs in the region and supporting more than half of Canada’s $30-billion ocean economy.
Thousands of crate moves, grade transformations and packing orders are automated and accounted for in real time with Sedna’s RFID Inventory System
Lobster is by far the most valuable Canadian Seafood Export, but currently the industry has high levels of waste in both time and resources.
Harvested out of the ocean, lobster is accounted for at the dock level. Most players in the fisheries industry currently record on paper first and then manually enter that information into a spreadsheet. This is a tedious process that results in high levels of human error. Where data is only processed periodically; it creates a gap in information.
Nova Scotia has recognized this and is upping its game on lobster quality standards.
An internationally recognized quality standard for holding lobsters in Nova Scotia will be among the new regulations for the recently amended provincial Fisheries and Coastal Resources Act. Minister of Agriculture and Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Keith Colwell said in a recent artice with the Chronicle Herald: “The goal is to determine where our member companies can make technology improvements that will maintain and enhance product quality and address efficiency and labor short falls.”
Born here in Nova Scotia with a background in commercial fisheries and fisheries resource management, co-founders Aleksandr Stabenow and Sheamus MacDonald saw an opportunity to help modernize the seafood industry. Sedna aims to increase product integrity, enable proper inventory management systems and decrease losses due to mortality, misplaced product and waste. Inventory management is so important, especially when you’re looking to get consistent, quality product to market.The company recently developed an RFID inventory management system catered specifically to helping lobster pounds improve traceability and enhance product quality of live lobsters.
Sedna’s RFID Shop Floor Inventory Management System
The Sedna module provides crate level traceability and will indicate when and where your products are in real-time, their volumes, locations as well as provide a complete digital history of the movement of your products.
How does it work?
Rather than recording information on paper, information is inputted directly through Sedna’s mobile app. RFID tags are scanned and placed on individual crates of lobsters.
The information feeds into a centralized database which can be viewed by the administrative staff through various reports and dashboards. The data is automatically uploaded to the office in real time, eliminating the need to reconcile paperwork.
Ability to track inventory in, internal movement and inventory out
Track volumes of inventory in each individual tank at any given time
Logging of historical data and circumstances
Crate level traceability of graded versus ungraded levels of inventory
Improved back office shipping and sales functions.
Cloud based system provides access anytime, anywhere!
Here is an informative step-by-step breakdown of our easy to use application
The Sedna system increases the transparency of your supply chain and eliminates waste. It documents and provides valuable business intelligence on the quality of your products from each harvester Sedna Technologies is playing a huge role in helping Atlantic Canada become leaders in oceans technology.
There has been much buzz surrounding Nova Scotia’s ocean technology sector. Ocean related industries generate approximately $4.5 billion, or 12.2 per cent of the provincial GDP. These industries are comprised of hundreds of companies, with dozens using innovative technology to come up with new solutions to many of common problems.
In a recent interview, Aleksandr Stabenow, co-founder and chief technology officer of Sedna Technologies, explained how his company has been disrupting the local seafood industry with new technology.
Since its beginnings in 2017, Sedna has been pioneering a new approach to tracking, tracing and monitoring seafood, “from catch to plate.”
From harvester to consumer, Sedna provides applications for everyone in the supply chain. As Stabenow explains: “As lobster fisherman are building bigger boats to go out farther and longer, the risk is higher, because if one of the pumps goes on one of the live wells, it can starve the lobsters of water.”
Sedna’s sensors monitors temperature and dissolved oxygen and sends that realtime information to the fishermen’s cell phone or onboard computer, notifying them if the dissolved oxygen in the live well starts to drop. In that way, the fishermen become aware of the situation and intervene, before it turns deadly to the catch.
“We’ve had examples of guys who hold 9,000 pounds of lobster and have lost the entire shipment because they didn’t know there was an issue in their live well” This is not only a substantial financial loss for the fishermen, but a huge waste of product which then are no longer good for consumption. With Sedna’s technology, financial and product loss due to adverse conditions in the live wells will become non-existent. [Text Wrapping Break] Back on land, food distributors are buying the product directly from fishermen, and according to Stabenow, these transactions have traditionally been recorded with pen and paper directly on the dock.
“How it works is that a fisherman arrives with product, and paper receipts get written up and exchanged between buyer and seller,” said Stabenow. “We’ve digitized that process.”
Sedna’s digitization process involves a simple mobile application with a handheld machine that is submersible in up to 2.5 meters of water. They punch in the weight, punch in the harvester and print off an inkless thermal receipt of the information allowing for the information to be captured faster and in a format that holds up much better than a piece of paper, given the harsh weather conditions of the North Atlantic.
“A lot of technology that has been tried in the North Atlantic fisheries industry hasn’t been durable,” said Stabenow. “So far, no one else has been able to cater the technology specifically to the fisheries industry.”
According to Stabenow, his application has allowed dockside workers to record their daily purchases quicker and more accurately than the traditional method, shaving hours off the process.
When asked about how his company has been disrupting the local seafood industry Stabenow smiles and says, “the main way we’re disrupting the seafood space is we’re bringing technology to an industry that has never really been susceptible to it. The only real technology that’s been brought into the industry before this is legacy systems – accounting software that’s 20 years old. What we’re doing is modernizing the industry with technology and that’s something that people haven’t really been able to do before.”
Now, as many rural Nova Scotians are aware, fishermen can be a stubborn bunch. Often set in their ways and steeped in tradition, I asked how Sedna’s products and services have been received by the men and women who make a living battling some of the world’s worst weather conditions.
“It’s been received really well. What sets us apart is we do the groundwork. I’m local, my partner is a fisherman from Cape Breton and we drive down the coast and go door-to-door introducing people to our technology and walking them through it. That’s a large reason why we’ve been able to penetrate the market here in the Maritimes. “
With over 60 clients after one year in market, it’s clear that their approach with the locals has been working.[Text Wrapping Break] The subject frequently on people’s mind these days is the environment. As we are experiencing more intense storms, higher sea levels, and extreme temperatures, the sustainability of the seafood industry and the impact it is having on our ecosystems and climate definitely comes into focus. So what impact does Sedna’s technology have on the ability of the seafood industry to meet the challenges of the climate emergency? “We’re saving time, increasing efficiencies and decreasing waste,” Stabenow replies. In addition to ensuring fishermen don’t lose their catch due to inadequate water quality in the live wells on board their boats, Sedna’s technology is also being used for a similar purpose in dockside fish plants — constantly monitoring the water quality of tanks with live product in them.
There are spin-off benefits of the technology as well.
“The refrigeration systems are constantly calibrated for the temperature of the water and because we’re getting a more accurate readings of what the real time temperature of the water is, the company is requiring less energy to maintain its operation,” explains Stabenow. “There are guys who service these tanks and are used to sending a truck to check on the tanks and now they don’t need to, so we’re saving that gas as well, which means less emissions.”
Stabenow is hopeful that his technology will help with the sustainability of the seafood industry, which provides for so much of Nova Scotia’s rural economies.
“At a basic level, all the benefits of this technology – saving time, saving energy, saving money — increase the industry’s bottom line right away. Where does that go? Directly into the rural economies of Nova Scotia.”
Author bio: Spontaneous traveller, Atlantic Canada enthusiast, lover of all things marine.
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