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The Smartfish project aims to develop, test and promote a set of high-tech systems for the EU fisheries sector.

Technologies 4.0 can help increase fishing efficiency and sustainability

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Friday, February 08, 2019, 21:40 (GMT + 9)

With the aim of extracting maximum performance from information and communication technologies, the AZTI technology center participates in the Smartfish project, focused on the development of intelligent systems for a fishing sector that faces important challenges such as guaranteeing sustainable fishing in the future.

This initiative, which started in 2018 and will conclude in 2021, has a budget of EUR 6 million and is financed by the European Union through the R&D&I program Horizon 2020.

To analyze the progress registered so far, 39 representatives of the 18 partners that make up the project consortium met this week in Bilbao at a meeting organized by AZTI.

"The so-called Blue Growth, the strategy that supports the sustainable development of the marine sector, the circular economy and the emergence of 4.0 technologies, offer opportunities to improve the competitiveness of the fishing industry in an increasingly global market that we must take advantage of," says Guzmán Diez, a fisheries management specialist at AZTI.

In his opinion, the new paradigm 4.0. it is a "clear example" of the path the entire food value chain  and the fishing sector must follow, through the "promotion of the improvement of productive processes to optimize competitiveness of local companies, in the face of pressure exercised globally by companies from places that often do not respect the legality or sustainability of marine resources."

Specifically, the systems developed in the framework of the Smartfish project will serve to contribute to the decision-making process of fishermen during the pre-capture, capture and post-capture phases of the extraction process, in order to reduce involuntary fish mortality and damage to the ecosystem.

In addition, Smartfish technologies will provide new data for stock assessment of commercial fisheries and will improve the quality and quantity of information from traditional assessment surveys. This way, it will be possible to make a more accurate assessment of the fish stock and more rigorously analyze the fish population. 

Another advantage of these devices will be the possibility of automatically accessing data already collected on fisheries catches, which will allow to create more rigorous management regulations and raise compliance rates.

Within this project, in which different technological solutions will be developed, AZTI coordinates a work package for the development and testing of acoustic and optical technologies for size discrimination and identification of species in purse seine fisheries.

It also participates in the development of hardware and software infrastructure for the acquisition of scientific and fishing data, and in the coordination of tests of different technologies in the purse seine and trawl fleets of the Biscay Bay.

SMARTFISH Catch Snap concept

"We are working on an underwater imaging system (SeinePrecog) based on UTOFIA 3D cameras, 2D video cameras and echo sounders with the objective of discriminating species to reduce discards since before capture," says Diez.

In addition, AZTI collaborates with Zunibal, the first Basque company that develops oceanographic buoys for tuna fishing, in the development of an acoustic echo sounder capable of discriminating the size of the species in the banks, to facilitate the decisions of the Cantabrian purse seine fleet owners before making the haul, which will reduce discards and move towards more sustainable fisheries.

In the framework of Smartfish, real-time monitoring systems are also being developed, which are independent of the trawl net for the identification of fish and crustaceans that are not detected by current techniques. Another of the developments that are being carried out are real-time monitoring and analysis solutions with the capacity to provide detailed information on species and sizes that enter the trawl net, based on the combination of 4K resolution cameras and LED light, 3D camera and software for automatic analysis.

Smart fishing technologies can help the fishing industry to be more efficient and respectful of the environment.

The smart fishing gear system (SmartGear) will allow the modification of the trawl net using LED technology to optimize the performance of the catches.

Several systems will be used (CatchScanner, CatchSnap, CatchMonitor) with 3D artificial vision technologies, CCTV cameras and learning algorithms for data collection and species composition analysis in the catches and discards. On the other hand, the FishData system will be able to systematically collect and analyze the data obtained in the fishing vessels and send them ashore to facilitate the scientific use of the results in the evaluation.

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