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Disruptive concept and technology for sustainable fisheries

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SUNFISH (Disruptive concept and technology for sustainable fisheries)

Reporting period: 2021-09-01 to 2022-08-31

Huge problems exist in the global fishing industry today. Despite the social and economic importance of capture fisheries, attempts to exploit marine resources in a sustainable manner have been largely unsuccessful, leading to widespread concerns often accompanied by high-profile media reports, that fishing is causing irreparable damage to the marine environment. There is a growing awareness among Europeans that current fishing methods such as trawls, seines, and nets can be destructive to the marine environment through seabed destruction, bycatch, ghost fishing, and a source of plastic pollution, affecting ecosystems, biodiversity and killing hundreds of thousands of non-target species, including mammals, turtles, and birds.

o Bottom trawling destroys or damage the seafloor habitats, by dragging large heavy nets or other fishing gears across the seafloor, scooping up everything in its path, like centuries-old corals

o Bycatch, or the catch of non-target ocean wildlife, is a consequence of most of current fishing methods and is one of the largest threats to marine ecosystems. It is estimated that 40% of fish catch worldwide is unintentionally caught and is partly thrown back into the sea, either dead or dying

o Abandoned, lost, or otherwise discarded fishing gears creates two additional problems for marine ecosystems and biodiversity: ghost fishing and plastic pollution

o Plastic waste resulting from abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gears are the main source marine environment pollution, being estimated that as much as 70% (by weight) of microplastics (above 20cm) found floating on the surface of the ocean was fishing related

o In wild capture fisheries, fish are often chased to exhaustion, crushed and raised quickly to air pressure. Fishing practices can also affect fishes that encounter the fishing gear but escape, that take with them injuries that might slowly kill them

o Fishing accounts for 1.2 % of global oil consumption. The energy content of the fuel burned is more than 12 times that of the resulting catch. Thus, it is needed a more efficient and sustainable approach that allows reducing fuel consumption not only by avoiding inefficient trips to the sea, but also by its nature.

The overall objective for the company is to is to develop a disruptive and sustainable fishing concept called InnoCatch which helps to solve the above problems within today’s fisheries. The concept is a combination of method and equipment and consists of the four main components:

1. A proprietary trap-technology, with ground-breaking features and innovative design allowing the traps to be much bigger and still highly collapsible and stackable. These capacities allow for higher catch each trap and a higher number of traps each fishing vessel. This passive method limits seabed destruction and loss of fishing gear.

2. A smart buoy (on the surface) with sensors to define geo position, receive signals from the transducer (subsea) below, measuring biomass in the trap in real-time and identification of gear and fisherman owning it. Used in a responsible manner, the sensor system will be an important device for the mitigation of plastic pollution and ghost fishing.

3. Light attractant attracts krill, copepods and other creatures that is natural pray for fish.

4. Software solution with both front-end for the fishermen and back-end for storage and further analysis of big data. The fishermen will have continuous information about the trap and catch which help them to maximize their ecological and economic efficiency. The position monitoring will further prevent loss of fishing gear. The software will also facilitate for monitoring and surveillance of all gear connected to the platform, which can be of interest also to regulators and other stakeholders interested in such data.
A full development team in place and total work force increased to 21. ISO certification process in completed, certifications pending.

We have had several communication and dissemination activities, both in conventions, newspapers and other. We also were initiators for an event with the parliament in EU hosted by the European Bureau for Conservation and Development. The event was held week 45 2021 and Member of the European parliament, MS. Carvalho, Vice-Chair of PECH Committee hosted a 2-hour event for Innomar to disseminate its tech, business and sustainable fisheries and ocean focus, under the topic, “Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development”. Other speakers was invited to participate in the session and a fruitful roundtable was carried out.

In Q4 2021 Ocean-X sent a team to film Innomars achievement and technology, focusing on how players like Innomar are making positive innovations that can help mitigating ghost fishing and making fishing more sustainable.

An important distribution agreement with OK Marine was agreed and they will help Innomar with distribution and dissemination of the products.
A full commercial version of the fish trap, the topside-buoy (geolocation sensor) and the software platform is launched and is in active use with customers. The topside buoy together with the software gives the user real-time geo position, owner of the unit and what type of fishing gear is connected in the other end. Innomar has also managed to integrate these components to the UI of commonly used navigation systems further helping market penetration. Software with a well-developed UI and a solid platform for data harvesting is operative. The Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries wish survey the possibility to make digital marking of fishing equipment mandatory, by using technology such as Innomars topside-buoy. A demo has been held with positive feedback. Innomar is aiming to sell several thousand units of buoys and fish traps in 2023.

The transducer has been developed to a TRL-level of 7 as the technology was tested in an operational environment sending eccograms and live pictures in real time wirelessly through the water column. The development of this unit has been stalled somewhat as a result of component scarcity, critically the FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Arrays)-components which has had a lead time of 86 weeks.
During testing program with partner Kongsberg Maritime, we have obtained promising results from wireless transmitting of colored pictures from the trap to the buoys.

The development of the smart buoys has been developed further and they are now a stand-alone product and a vital part of the total InnoCatch system. With a breakthrough in the market, the distribution of smart buoys for existing fishing gear as well, the company may have increased impact on the protection of the environment. Norway is also surveying mandatory use of digital identification of fishing activities. We expect and understand that similar measures to also happen in other jurisdictions. Mandatory identification can be done automatically by the Innomar smart buoys.

The state-of-the art results of the project are as follows:

- Groundbreaking technology for transmission of colored pictures wireless from trap to buoy
- Groundbreaking smart buoys for tracking position and recovery of lost fishing gear
- Innovative and advanced software solutions providing the fishers with a fully developed UI