In the early hours of a rainy Monday morning in Largs Boat Harbour on Scotland’s west coast, Ian Whiteman is already hard at work, heading out onto the water. Ian, a seasoned fisherman with nearly four decades of experience, knows that every minute counts in his daily quest to catch langoustines. Delays, whether caused by faulty nets, unwanted sea life in the catch, or changing water conditions, can result in lost income for him and his business.
As the sun slowly rises, Ian steers his boat through the waters of the River Clyde, prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. However, today, he’s not just relying on traditional fishing techniques. Ian is part of a trial using cutting-edge technology from SafetyNet Technologies, aimed at improving sustainability in fishing and reducing bycatch.
Bycatch, as defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), occurs when fishers unintentionally capture non-targeted marine species, such as dolphins and sea turtles, in their fishing gear. Often, this bycatch is discarded back into the sea, with the unfortunate creatures usually dead or dying.
Alison Cross, director of fishery sustainability at the WWF, emphasizes the significant impact of bycatch on ocean health and ecosystems. It not only threatens marine species but also hampers the resilience of ecosystems to adapt to adverse conditions.
SafetyNet Technologies’ innovative approach involves attaching lights, cameras, and sensors to fishing nets. These devices provide real-time insights into underwater conditions, helping fishermen like Ian Whiteman make informed decisions to reduce bycatch. With technology like this, the fishing industry is taking significant strides toward a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future.