This is how smart technology is helping to combat overfishing

(Fredrik Öhlander, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Katharine Rooney, Senior Writer , Formative Content


  • Global fish production reached its highest level in 2018 at 96.4 million tonnes.
  • 35% of global fish harvest is lost or wasted every year.
  • Light and audio technology can protect species and increase sustainability in our oceans.

The humble fishing net has had an upgrade – and it’s one that’s playing an important role in fisheries management. At sites around the northeast Atlantic, scientists are working with the fishing industry on trials of light and audio technology that are protecting endangered species, preserving food security and safeguarding revenues.

SafetyNet Technologies, based in the UK, has developed LED lighting that clips to fishing gear and can switch between a range of colours and intensities, using behavioural response to light to target specific species.

“By illuminating the net in exactly the right recipe of light, we allow the fisherman to effectively programme their net to attract or repel exactly the species a fisherman wants,” says Aran Dasan, Chief Technology Officer of SafetyNet Technologies, in a video shared by the company.

This saves fishermen time and helps to avoid what’s known as bycatch – other fish or marine life that inadvertently gets caught in nets, including turtles, dolphins and juvenile fish.

It also helps to address the 35% of the global harvest that is lost or wasted every year.

The life aquatic

We have a growing appetite for fish. Between 1990-2018, there was a 122% increase in our consumption of seafood. Billions rely on it as a staple part of their diet, and fishing is the primary source of income for millions of people worldwide.

Capture fisheries have increased extensively over the course of the last sixty years.
Global fish production reached its highest-ever level in 2018, at 96.4 million tonnes. Image: FAO

Fisheries production for both wild and farmed stocks reached a record level in 2018, at 96.4 million tonnes. As demand for fish has risen, the level of sustainable fish stocks has dropped by a third since 1974. There is an urgent need for better fisheries management to ensure the sector remains resilient, says the Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations.

Innovative solutions to the challenge of excess fishing are being explored through UpLink, a platform hosted by the World Economic Forum that is connecting entrepreneurs, experts and investors so that they can scale up those solutions in a way that helps to meet United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) targets.

What’s the World Economic Forum doing about the ocean?

Our oceans cover 70% of the world’s surface and account for 80% of the planet’s biodiversity. We can’t have a healthy future without healthy oceans – but they’re more vulnerable than ever because of climate change and pollution.

Tackling the grave threats to our oceans means working with leaders across sectors, from business to government to academia.

The World Economic Forum, in collaboration with the World Resources Institute, convenes the Friends of Ocean Action, a coalition of leaders working together to protect the seas. From a programme with the Indonesian government to cut plastic waste entering the sea to a global plan to track illegal fishing, the Friends are pushing for new solutions. https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-0&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1107578509822697472&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.weforum.org%2Fagenda%2F2020%2F11%2Foverfishing-sustainable-technology-innovation%2F&theme=light&widgetsVersion=ed20a2b%3A1601588405575&width=550px

Climate change is an inextricable part of the threat to our oceans, with rising temperatures and acidification disrupting fragile ecosystems. The Forum runs a number of initiatives to support the shift to a low-carbon economy, including hosting the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, who have cut emissions in their companies by 9%.

Is your organisation interested in working with the World Economic Forum? Find out more here.

One of those goals aims to end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices.

But sometimes, fishermen lack the tools to help improve those practices.

Most fishermen want to comply with regulations, but currently, their methods of fishing are not selective enough to be able to do so,” says SafetyNet Technologies Chief Operating Officer Nadia Laabs.

Smarter tools, better decisions

The use of smart technology for better fishing outcomes is the focus of a European Union-led initiative, SmartFish H2020 – a multinational collaboration set up to use emerging technology, like AI, machine vision and acoustics, to help fishermen make more informed decisions.

“Fishers typically operate huge structures, like enormous nets, which are underwater where they can’t see them,” Dr Lars Kyllingstad, a scientist at marine research institute SINTEF, told Horizon magazine. “And they try to use these [nets] to catch things that they also can’t see.” https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-1&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1269910337098219520&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.weforum.org%2Fagenda%2F2020%2F11%2Foverfishing-sustainable-technology-innovation%2F&theme=light&widgetsVersion=ed20a2b%3A1601588405575&width=550px

One SmartFish innovation uses hydroacoustic sensors alongside sonar and machine learning technology to track and identify fish swimming in a net beneath the waves. Deeper in the ocean, high-definition underwater cameras can be added to nets that are dragged along the seabed. All of these tools help fishermen to better understand the fish stocks in a given area.

Catch or release?

Similarly, CatchScanner uses machine vision to make 3D images of fish that can be analyzed as they are hauled aboard a vessel, allowing fishing crews to accurately determine species and weight and, if needed, relocate to waters with better and more plentiful supply. A handheld version, CatchSnap, could even be used on mobile phones, enabling smaller vessels to make use of the technology.

The data collected by CatchScanner could also help to stop vessels catching more than the EU quota allows. In 2019, Sweden, the UK, and Ireland all had hauls significantly above the total allowable catch recommended by scientists.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

6 ways countries can prepare for the next infectious disease pandemic

Moves to create a Kosovo army have ‘deteriorated relations’ with Serbia: UN peacekeeping chief

Smart city experts should be looking to emerging markets. Here’s why

3 unexpected consequences of the US-China trade war

China and China-EU Relations in the New Era

Beyond ‘business as usual’. Addressing the climate change crisis

Eurozone at risk of home-made deflation and recession

We need to give voice to ‘We the Peoples’, says UN chief

With Libyans now ‘fighting the wars of others’ inside their own country, UN envoy urges Security Council action to end violence

German stock market is not affected by the Greek debt revolution while Athens is running out of time

Coronavirus: EU guidance for a safe return to the workplace

5 things COVID-19 has taught us about inequality

Pharmaceuticals: Commission refines intellectual property rules

All States have ‘primary responsibility’ to protect against hate attacks

How the ‘California effect’ could shape a global approach to ethical AI

South Korea: A cherished partner for the EU

Where is heading Putin’s Russia?

New Mozambique storm rips off roofs, brings lashing rain as aid response kicks in

UN refugee agency presses States to aid 49 refugees stranded on Mediterranean

Young translators at EU schools – Commission opens registration for 2020 translation contest

Negotiated two-State solution still ‘the only option’ for Palestine: Guterres

UN political chief calls for dialogue to ease tensions in Venezuela; Security Council divided over path to end crisis

State aid: Commission approves €1.2 billion French “Fonds de solidarité” scheme for small enterprises in temporary financial difficulties due to coronavirus outbreak

These are the top 10 global causes of death – but two diseases are in decline

Brazilian health: right or privilege?

Why the minutes and the months matter most to young people during the COVID-19 crisis

Stop cooperation with and funding to the Libyan coastguard, MEPs ask

Statement by the European Commission following the extraordinary meeting of the EU-UK Joint Committee

Why Eurozone urgently needs the ECB to print and distribute at least €500 billion

The remote doctor in the 21st century

Over 820 million people suffering from hunger; new UN report reveals stubborn realities of ‘immense’ global challenge

“France will be there, it will always be there!”, French President Hollande says in a rather disorganised speech; the Sting reports live from World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

What just happened? 5 themes from the COP24 climate talks in Poland

More bank bailouts at taxpayers’ expenses

EP wants data protection guaranteed before allowing fingerprint exchange with UK

Business growth is key to post-pandemic recovery

A new paradigm for collaboration: mission-based ecosystems

Africa is ‘on the rise’, says UN chief Guterres, urging collaboration for better future

MEPs urge UK to break current deadlock

Gender equality and medicine in the 21st century: an equity unachieved

Commission supports Member States in tackling coronavirus hotspots with offer of four million additional doses of BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine to be delivered this month

These 4 companies are turning food waste into cosmetics, clothing and more

Ahead of State of the Union the European Youth Forum highlights lack of action on youth employment

More international support needed to curb deadly measles outbreak in DR Congo

White Coat, Stained red

Gas pipeline in the European Union. (Copyright: EU, 2012 / Source: EC - Audiovisual Service / Photo: Ferenc Isza)

EU Investment Bank approves € 1.5bn loan for Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP)

COVID-19 has accelerated India’s digital reset

Commission celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Jean Monnet Activities promoting European studies worldwide

Meet the Seed Warrior: the man on a mission to rescue India’s rice diversity

UN rights chief ‘extremely concerned’ over deadly crackdown on protesters in Iran

Amid COVID-19 constraints, UN women’s commission meets to push gender equality forward

COVID-19, higher education and the impact on society: what we know so far and what could happen

As rural communities age, their public transport is shrinking. It’s time to fix this

Why the future of food must be blue as well as green

The digital revolution will transform the steel industry

ILO: Unemployment to increase by 8.1 million in 2013-2014

Central Mali: Top UN genocide prevention official sounds alarm over recent ethnically-targeted killings

Eco-anxiety during the Pandemic

GSMA Mobile 360 – Africa on 16-18 July 2019, in association with The European Sting

Destroying nuclear waste to create clean energy? It can be done

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s