Snapper specimens inside a net. (Photo Credit: YouTube/Catalyst for Change)
Breakthrough fishing technology could radically change sustainable fishing
Wednesday, October 02, 2013, 03:20 (GMT + 9)
Revolutionary fishing technology, which has just been revealed, is expected to radically change the way the wildfish harvesting has been performed up to now.
The new technology, called Precision Seafood Harvesting (PSH), will allow every fish caught to swim comfortably underwater inside a large flexible PVC liner where it can be sorted for the correct size and species before being brought onboard the fishing vessel.
The state-of-the-art technology is a world's first and is the brain-child of Alistair Jerrett, from Plant and Food Research. The discovery was unveiled at Seafood New Zealand's annual conference in Auckland on 1 October.
This revolutionary development has been possible due to the financial backing provided jointly under a Primary Growth Partnership by Sanford, Sealord and Aotearoa Fisheries, which have invested a total of NZD 26 million (USD 21.5 million) in the project as well as New Zealand's government, which is matching the companies investment.
PSH programme saw the light in April of 2012 and will go on for a total of six years to commercialize the new technology in the country's fishing industry.
The new way of harvesting wildfish is the result of ten years of research. It will revolutionize the way traditional industrial fishing is done at the moment because it will target specific species and fish size, increasing protection for smaller, unwanted fish which can swim free through 'escape portals'.
"In terms of selectivity we design everything to make sure unwanted animals are discharged as fast as possible at depth - we don't want them to even see the light of day," Jerrett said. He went on to add that the main objective of the programme is that the new system does not damage the fish caught. "One of the objectives is to make sure that any animal that reaches the surface, if we can't select it out underwater, is delivered back to the sea unharmed".
Sanford's Greg Johansson believes this new technology is just the start. He is positive it will lead on to changes in vessel designs and layouts as well as in the way the firm's handles fish and gets it to consumers.
Sealord has been quick to see the potential the new technology will have on its crew members too, who were skeptical at first but have now changed their minds. Vessel Manager Bill Healey says: "When we talk to them now, when we see the reactions to the fish coming up, we know we're on to something. I know we're doing something unique and great."
Carl Carrington, head of Aotearoa Fisheries, thinks this discovery is good news for sustainability, boosting New Zealand's credentials and strengthens the country's access to sustainability-conscious consumers, improving product taste and quality and is also good value for growth.
By Gabriela Raffaele