The high-tech future of fishing
Sealord Resource Manager for Charles Heaphy fishing operations.
Nelson-based Sealord believes an advanced analytics project he’s working on with tech giant Datacom will lead to more sustainable commercial fishing in the future.
The Advanced Fishing Analytics project brings together historical fishing data with satellite environmental data and real-time sensor readings from fishing vessels to more accurately predict where to find different species of fish and minimize bycatch of fish species. fish out of quota.
Sealord believes predictive modeling could be a game-changer for his business and for the economic and environmental sustainability of New Zealand’s fishing industry.
âWhen we’re trying to catch fish, if we can avoid going in an unproductive direction, we can reduce diesel consumption,â said Matthew Dodd, chief information technology officer for Sealord.
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âAnother big part of the picture of sustainability is minimizing the bycatch of out-of-quota species. We want to use the data to make better decisions about where we fish to reduce our chances of bycatch and focus our efforts on high quota species. “
Using 30 years of Sealord’s trawl data for two key species in its catches – hoki and horse mackerel – Datacom built a predictive model for “catch per unit effort”, which is a key measure of abundance of a target species and the accuracy of a fishing plan.
Datacom combined trawl data with environmental and oceanographic data and satellite images. It also included data points such as surface temperature, ocean currents, salinity, and levels of chlorophyll – the green pigment of phytoplankton that forms the basis of food chains in the oceans.
Preliminary analysis of Sealord’s trawl data revealed a large disparity between effort and catch, but the predictive model was also found to be an accurate predictor of past fishing success.
In addition to reducing fuel consumption and overall costs, the use of advanced analytics could lead to more efficient harvesting strategies and help optimize route planning for trawlers. Going forward, Sealord and Datacom intend to add more quality datasets to the model, especially for fish species for which limited data was currently available.
Sealord’s resource manager for fishing operations Charles Heaphy said the data has helped reduce the complexity of commercial fishing.
âIf we can spot trends early, we’ll be able to better understand our fishery. That’s why we need these big data sets and a way to see through the noise, âHeaphy said.
Sealord plans to share its analytics platform with the Deepwater Group, an industry partnership that represents the quota owners of New Zealand’s deepwater fisheries and aims to optimize sustainable fisheries management.
Combining datasets from other industry players would improve the predictive power of the model.
Heaphy said a pilot project, which was part of the government-funded Project Moana scientific modeling effort, involved attaching sensors to fishing nets to provide real-time water temperature readings.
Sealord was also adding sensors to its fishing boats to more accurately monitor diesel usage and engine and boiler performance.