Archive for the ‘Technology’ category

Emerging technologies in fishing

July 2, 2019

My husband is an avid fisherman. I am not; I get seasick even on calm waters. One night, he told me about the 2019 Fishers Forum, part of the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting. I rushed home from work and we attended the Forum.

I thought that the evening would only be about fishing techniques, gear, and fishing stories, and I was completely wrong. The forum agenda was Fishing in the Future: Emerging Technologies in Fisheries.  All of the presenters shared something new and interesting about fishing, for fishermen and land-lovers.

Releasing bycatch safely. Caleb McMahan of Hawaiian Fresh Seafood shared his path to designing a device to cut wire line (not just filament), so that bycatch (the fish or other marine species that are unintentionally caught, such as sharks, sea turtles, and dolphins) can be released unharmed. His prototype is still in development, but it was interesting to take a peek at the design and engineering process. He stressed the requirements of safety (no damage to the user, the boat, or the marine life), affordability (one prototype cost $3,000), and effectiveness (cutting through the wire, with minimal trailing gear), as well as evidence that the bycatch survive the interaction via a satellite tag.

Using drones to harvest fish more efficiently. Local fishermen Carl and Matt Jellings talked about the how drone technology has impacted the way they fish. In the past, they would climb a mountain or charter an airplane to spot schools of akule. Today, a drone can provide accurate, real-time video of the size of the school, the position of the boat, and even the ground (sand, rock, or coral) beneath the school. Carl and Matt showed amazing drone video from a Mavic 2 of their boat driving in circles through a school of akule. “A lot of it is still the old way… a lot of skill involved, a lot of hard work,” they said. “We go out less but we produce the same.”

Connecting fishermen with an app. Jim Hori and Ed Watamura introduced the free Lokahi Fishing App. The app connects fishermen to fish by providing all the weather-related information they need in one place (wind, weather, tides, moon phases) and giving them a way to record catch reports. It also connects fishermen to other fishermen, by offering alerts about news, events, and fishing-related legislation; sharing tips and videos from expert fishermen; and offering safety/mayday options to connect other app users in case of an emergency. * Must be in cell-phone range *

Researching bottomfish with 360 cameras. Ruhul Amin of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center highlighted three new technologies in bottomfish research: the Modular Optical Underwater Survey System (MOUSS), which can identify the count, species, and size of bottomfish; the Moana 360 Degree Camera System, which can provide 360 degree, 15 minute digital video at a depth of 300 meters; and early research into eDNA, a process to take water samples at bottomfish depth to determine which bottomfish have passed through the area.

Global Fishing Watch, United States Exclusive Economic Zone (Hawai‘i), one month ending June 26, 2019

Tracking fish and fisheries for ocean management. Tim White of Global Fishing Watch discussed how satellite tracking, combined with observer data on fishing vessels, can help us better manage our fisheries. Using electronic tagging, researches can track individual marine animals for up to one year. Using the Automated Identification System (AIS), researchers and governments can track commercial fishing patterns, monitor restricted fishing zones, and identify global trench shipment activity (when fishing vessels offload their catch to refrigeration vessels, and then continue to fish). This was the most controversial presentation of the evening, with attendees expressing concern about sharing proprietary information (fishing spots), questioning the availability of the data (maps are free and there is a three day delay), and challenging how this technology will be used responsibly. Tim stated, “We are very soon going to live in a world where we can see the whole planet every day.”

Technology is helping us fish more effectively, improving the way we manage marine resources, keeping us safer on the ocean, and giving us more time doing things that matter.

Do you enjoy shoreline or ocean fishing? Are there other technologies that you think will change commercial and recreational fishing?