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Tech companies are working to make fisheries and aquaculture more sustainable

  • Several companies around the world are developing technologies to make fishing and aquaculture more sustainable.
  • These include using artificial intelligence to identify invasive species that disrupt marine food webs and the fisheries they support, and Wright, which seeks to attract only target species into fishing nets to reduce the capture of non-target species. It is included.
  • As a rapidly growing world population underscores the need to source protein more sustainably, experts urgently need to find ways to reduce damage and increase productivity in fisheries. said.

For those who fish for a living, removing bycatch from their nets is a tedious task. It is costly, labor intensive and causes wear and tear on your boat and gear. For unintentionally captured marine animals, the consequences are more debilitating and mostly fatal. From an ecological perspective, unintentionally killing too many animals can disrupt entire marine ecosystems and the food chains that keep them in balance. 40%.

UK-based startup SafetyNet Technologies is trying to find a technical solution. The company deploys LED lights of varying colors and intensities that fishermen can attach to their gear to attract specific species. You can change the light according to the fish species you want to target.

“Different species can see and be attracted to different lights,” Tom Rossiter, head of precision fishing and sales at SafetyNet Technologies, said in a video interview with Mongabay. “That’s the trigger we use to move certain species towards the net.”

Studies by British and US fishermen testing the lighting technology have shown it reduces bycatch, but larger trials are needed to conclusively demonstrate the technology’s effectiveness, Rossiter said. “The size of the trial needs to be further increased to increase statistical confidence,” he said.

Aquaculture in the Saronic Gulf of Greece. Aquaculture is expected to grow in the coming years, and the FAO report highlights the need to sustainably expand aquaculture through technological innovation and policy support. Image by Artur Rydzewski on his Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

While Rossiter acknowledged the potential for overfishing due to overpopulation of target species, he said SafetyNet Technologies vettes its users to ensure its equipment is not misused. “We conduct due diligence to ensure that the values ​​of our customers and partners are aligned with ours,” he said.

Studies show that using lighting technology to gather target species in one location not only saves fishermen time, it also saves carbon-emitting fuel. “We also don’t want people going out and burning fuel unnecessarily to find fish,” says Rossiter.

SafetyNet Technologies is one of many companies around the world trying to develop cutting-edge technologies that make fishing more sustainable and efficient. These companies are using artificial intelligence, imaging and lighting technology, and improved fishing nets to check fish health, deter invasive species and reduce bycatch.

The need is clear. Numerous reports and studies indicate that overfishing and competition from invasive species are among the many factors contributing to the decline of marine life. According to a 2022 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, only 64.6% of fish stocks were harvested “within biologically sustainable levels” in 2019, down 1.2% from 2017. Down from 90% in the 1970s. As a rapidly growing world population underscores the need to source protein more sustainably, researchers urgently need to find ways to reduce the damage and increase productivity of fisheries. said.

Efforts to find a viable solution are picking up.

In New Zealand, an initiative by the government, scientists and three fishing companies aims to reduce bycatch. Precision Seafood Harvesting has successfully replaced traditional trawl nets with nets that keep small fish out and leave the rest in the water after they are caught. This gives fishermen time to release bycatch, which has a better chance of survival than traditional nets, before pulling out the fish of interest.

Another company, Ohio-based Radmantis, is focused on aquaculture. The company’s devices use image processing and artificial intelligence technology to monitor fish and classify them based on their physical characteristics and appearance. When the AI ​​model detects signs of disease in fish, such as discolored fins, parasites or irregular swimming patterns, the Radmantis device directs them from the tank to the storage facility through a different exit than that used by healthy fish. guide the fish.

Radmantis co-founder Robert Huber said in a video interview with Mongabay: “There’s always that danger and there’s no chance to manage it manually.”

A device developed by Radmantis that opens and closes gates as fish swim. Video courtesy of Radomantis.

Aquaculture is expected to grow in the coming years, and the FAO report highlights the need to sustainably expand aquaculture through technological innovation and policy support. Radmantis’ products aim to reduce the spread of infectious diseases, one of the major logistical and financial hurdles for fish farming.

Outside of aquaculture, the company’s fish taxonomy system could help identify and control invasive species in freshwater ecosystems, Huber said. One potential application for Huber is the sea lamprey (Petromizon marinus) has been one of the most ecologically and financially damaging invasive species in U.S. history, depleting native fish populations and fishing economies.

“We can place devices at some of the chokepoints that sea lampreys pass through, and if they are identified, we can move them to exits that let them into the containment facility,” Hoover said. This application has not been tested yet.

Given the harsh aquatic environment that fishing gear faces, technical intervention in fishing is not as straightforward a task as in agriculture.

“Compared to the agricultural industry, fishing is far behind technologically,” says Rossiter of SafetyNet Technologies. “It has to be designed for the underwater environment, there is a lot of abrasion and impact, and it has to be tough enough to withstand it all.”

A fish found in a device developed by Radmantis. Image credit: Radomantis.

Despite the challenges, Hoover said the urgent need to responsibly and sustainably source seafood will drive further innovation to reshape fisheries and aquaculture.

“Meeting the food needs of a growing population is critical to our planet,” Hoover said. “Bluetech is a vibrant innovation space that will unlock a lot of potential to do more with a smaller resource footprint.”

Banner image: School of fish at dusk. Image by Jordan Robins/Ocean Image Bank.


Davies, RWD, Crippes, SJ, Nickson, A. & Porter, G., (2009). Definition and estimation of bycatch in global marine fisheries. Ocean Policy, 33(4), 661-672doi:10.1016/j.marpol.2009.01.003

FAO. (2022). The State of Global Fisheries and Aquaculture 2022: Towards a Blue TransformationRome, FAO. doi:10.4060/cc0461en

Aquaculture, Artificial Intelligence, Conservation, Conservation Technology, Ecosystems, Environment, Fisheries, Fishing, Marine Animals, Marine Biodiversity, Marine Ecosystems, Overfishing, Sustainability, Technology, Technology and Conservation, Wild Tech


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