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Periodic Reporting for period 1 - VirtualNet (VirtualNet)

Reporting period: 2016-12-01 to 2017-05-31

Over 50% of all wild fish landings in Europe, both in terms of weight and value, are caught using trawl fishing gear. The trawler industry faces major challenges due to bycatch, high energy use and CO2 emissions. The biggest problems are related to bottom trawling (2/3 of all trawling), rightly criticized for damaging the seafloor habitat, exposing the industry to a reputation risk with potential loss of markets and a proposed EU/international ban. As pointed out by FAO, harvest of mankind’s oldest oceanic resource - wild fish - is crucial for fishing communities. Fish is extremely nutritious – a vital source of protein and essential nutrients for humanity, it provides jobs to tens of millions and supports livelihood of hundreds of millions. The objective of the start-up company OptiTog is to instigate and benefit from a paradigm shift in trawl fishing. OptiTog's disruptive innovative solution, the VirtualNet replaces a conventional trawl with a new type of fishing gear that herds fish using a virtual trawl-shaped net. The virtual net is formed by projecting directed light through sea water without touching the seafloor. The innovation promises to reduce bycatch, leave the benthic habitat and escape fish unharmed, while lowering energy consumption.
A market study and a technical validation were conducted. The results form the basis of a comprehensive business plan that identifies an initial market and product offering, and a road map for a viable future of the business.
Products based on OptiTog's VirtualNet technology are set to reduce not one but many pressing environmental issues concerning trawl fishing. They tackle the EU-wide and global challenge to provide consumers with high quality sustainable fish products and securing a future for the fishing industry and the fishing communities.