Wednesday 17 April 2024
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Marine / Skippers trial underwater cameras to improve fishing techniques

Courageous. Photo: Ivan Reid

SHETLAND’s fishing fleet is deploying underwater cameras to help improve their catching techniques and save on fuel.

Two CatchCams, developed by SafetNet Technologies, have been purchased by the Shetland Fish Producers’ Organisation for vessels to trial.

The cameras are attached to nets and relay images back to an app, allowing skippers to make changes to how they haul.

They can help reduce unwanted by-catch, reduce net drag, thereby saving on fuel and carbon emissions, and improve the efficiency of fishing.

Ellis Fullerton, skipper of the Angelina LK 377, said that it was a useful aid to his years of experience at sea.

“Using the CatchCam meant you could see if your net was properly on the bottom, if the hoppers were hard down or bouncing along,” he said.

“If your net is light on the bottom you are not going to be catching species like monkfish, and you are just wasting fuel. We were able to make adjustments to correct this.

“For me the best thing about using it was peace of mind. It answered a lot of questions that I have had for many years of fishing. There is nothing like seeing what goes on with your own eyes via the camera.”

He added that a way of making fishing more efficient was “much needed as fuel is so expensive”.

Ian Shearer, skipper of the Courageous LK 470, said after a bit of trial and error he and his crew were able to make some alterations to their towing to improve their technique.

“We found them really good, easy to use, and would certainly like to have another go again in the future,” he said.

SFPO chief executive Brian Isbister said: “Our fishing crews in Shetland are committed to sustainable and efficient fishing methods, and our investment in this technology will support them in understanding and adapting their fishing gear with even greater confidence than was previously possible.

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“Early uptake from our member vessels has been encouraging, and we’re confident that these CatchCams units will be an excellent tool in continuing to work towards the long-term aspirations that we in Shetland have for our fisheries, and our community.”

Separately the Scottish Government announced last year that ‘remote electronic monitoring’ (REM) such as cameras, sensors, and GPS will become mandatory on large pelagic vessels and scallop dredge boats in the country’s waters.

The government also launched a consultation on proposals to introduce electronic tracking and monitoring technology for smaller fishing vessels.

The Scottish Government said the benefits of REM include improving the capacity to monitor fishing activity at sea and increase compliance with legislation, enhancing scientific knowledge and fishing data.

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