Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Smartfish 2020 - International high-tech system project could revolutionise fishing industry

Hi-tech system trial to be implemented in fishing activities. (Photo: SmartFish2020)

As part of an international effort computer scientists at the University of East Anglia are developing a GBP 5 million project to contribute for the fishing industry to be more sustainable, environmentally friendly, and profitable.

The project, called SMARTFISH-H2020, is intended to revolutionise the fishing industry, which employs over 24,000 people in the UK and contributes around GBP 1.4 billion to the British economy.

Co-ordinated by SINTEF Ocean in Norway, the initiative draws on research from the brightest minds at universities in Norway, Denmark, Turkey, France and Spain, along with research institutes and industry partners across Europe.

Other UK partners include Marine Scotland, The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), and Safetynet Technologies Limited.

The project aims to develop, test and roll out a suite of high-tech systems that optimise efficiency and reduce the ecological impact of fishing on the marine environment. The pioneering new technology will also improve automatic data collection and provide evidence of fishing regulation compliance.

The team at UEA’s School of Computing Sciences will focus on developing image technology such as on-board CCTV and smartphone apps to automatically quantify the fish catch. It is hoped that this information will not only benefit fishermen, but also academic research and policy makers.

The project developers state that these developments will assist commercial fishers throughout Europe in making informed decisions during pre-catch, catch, and post-catch phases of the fishing process.

“In recent years we have experienced extraordinary advances in camera technology, machine learning and artificial intelligence. Machines have become capable of performing certain vision tasks, such as image classification and object recognition, in real time and with high accuracy,” pointed out project leader Dr Michal Mackiewicz, from UEA’s School of Computing Sciences.

The scientist explained that they will develop advanced image processing and machine learning software which can be used to analyse fish catch images from on-board CCTV and handheld devices such as smartphones.

“It will help those in the fishing industry make informed decisions and lead to better economic efficiency, as well as reduce unintended fish mortality. It will also help provide new data about fish stocks and automatically collect catch data to ensure compliance with fisheries management regulations,” Mackiewicz stressed.

For his part, Project Coordinator Bent Herrmann, from Sintef Ocean said that the new innovative technologies being developed in the project will improve catch efficiency for the fishers, as well as the fish compositions in the catches in fisheries across the EU.

"This again will lead to improved economic efficiency in the industry and for the individual fishers, all the while unintended fish mortality is reduced, so that there is less unnecessary fishing pressure and ecosystem damage," Herrmann concluded.

SMARTFISH-H2020 (Innovative Technologies for Sustainable Fisheries in Europe) project will receive funding from the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme over four years.