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Participants in the SMARTFISH-H2020 project. (Photo: AZTI)

European project seeks to develop innovative technologies for sustainable fishing

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Thursday, February 08, 2018, 01:30 (GMT + 9)

The technological institute AZTI participates in a European research project that aims to develop technological solutions for an efficient, environmentally sustainable and ecologically sustainable fishing sector.

Due to the increasing pressure on the catch of marine resources, with increasing calls for sustainability in the sector, the SMARTFISH-H2020 project aims to develop, test and promote a set of high-tech systems that optimize the efficiency of resources, improve the automatic collection of data, demonstrate compliance with fisheries regulations and reduce the ecological impact of the sector in the marine environment.

In 2017 the EU approved the financing of this project with almost EUR 6 million for the next four years. In mid-January, project participants took part in the launch meeting held in Trondheim, Norway. For two days, an interdisciplinary consortium made up of technology developers and equipment suppliers, fishing companies, fisheries research and management institutes and universities from six European countries, discussed the first steps to be taken and how to achieve effective cooperation between the different sub-projects.

In the period between 2018 and 2021, the SMARTFISH-H2020 project group aims to revolutionize sustainable fisheries production through technological innovations.

Researchers and industrial partners will use and continue with the development of technological innovations already existing in the field of artificial vision, camera technology, data processing, machine learning, artificial intelligence, Big Data analysis, smartphones and tablets, LED technology, acoustic technology and remote-controlled vehicles (ROV).

The advances will help commercial fishermen across Europe to make informed decisions during the pre-capture, capture and post-capture phases of the extraction process.

"The new innovative technologies that we are developing in the project will improve the effectiveness of the catch for fishermen, as well as the composition of species in the catches in fisheries throughout the EU," says the project coordinator, Bent Herrmann. "This in turn will lead to greater economic efficiency for both the industry and individual fishermen, as well as a reduction in the mortality rate of unwanted fish, so that there is less unnecessary fishing pressure and less damage to the ecosystem," he adds.

However, these tools are not intended solely for the fishing industry. The project will also provide new data for stock assessment of commercial fisheries and will improve the quality and quantity of information from traditional assessment surveys. In this way, it will be possible to make a more accurate assessment of the stock of fisheries and to evaluate populations (stocks) with scarce data and, consequently, difficult to manage. In addition, the project will automatically access data already collected on fisheries catches, which will create management regulations to achieve higher compliance rates.

AZTI coordinates the Work Package 1 in which acoustic and optical technologies for size discrimination and identification of species in purse seine fisheries will be developed and tested.

In addition, it also participates in the development of hardware and software infrastructure for the acquisition of scientific and fishing data, and in the coordination of testing of technologies in the purse seine and trawl fleets of the Bay of Biscay.

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