#BETB14: FROM SATELLITES SUPPORTING AQUACULTURE TO A NEW USV TEST BED

 SDB in action

SDB in action

AQUACULTURE / SATELLITE-DERIVED BATHYMETRY

Satellite derived bathymetry aids fish farming, via POBonline.com

We were delighted to read that our good friends at TCarta have just finished a ground-breaking project, putting their world-leading satellite derived bathymetry (SDB) data to great use in the Arabian Gulf.

BMT, an innovative UK Engineering and Scientific Consultancy firm, has utilised specialist TCarta datasets to aid in the selection of new fish farming sites in the area, a service they are providing to the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency (EAD).

Aquaculture is booming in many parts of the world, as its potential within a blended fisheries management system is becoming more understood. Indeed, in countries such as the Philippines, aquaculture accounts for over half of total fisheries output, though that number reduces to about 25% in EU markets.

TCarta has been rapidly growing its SDB database over the past few years, both to help to address the major dearth of accurate seafloor depth measurements globally, and to open up new commercial and environmental opportunities that such high-resolution satellite imagery makes possible.  

In this instance, its hydrographic modelling software helped to pinpoint ideal fish farming sites based on water depth thresholds (to accommodate fish cages) and alignment with natural subsurface channels whose water currents can flush away waste.

Congratulations to all involved, and we look forward to seeing many more innovate uses of such affordable satellite-derived data sets in the future.

FISH TRACEABILITY

Seafood giant tests technology to prevent illegal fishing, worker abuse, via NewsDeeply

Fantastic to see in this article such a major global brand as Thai Union taking the issue of illegal fishing and human rights so seriously, and using innovative technology to do so at scale.

We highlighted in BETB12 the growing issue of human rights violations in the seafood supply and processing industry, including the good work of organisations such as OceanMind and Greenpeace in designing new systems to tackle it. But such approaches need full engagement with all parts of the supply chain, not just well-meaning NGOs and not-for-profits, which is why this featured initiative is so promising.  Thai Union came under public pressure in 2015 when they were accused of acquiring seafood from vessels that violated human rights. Their response was to work with those criticising them to make things right, starting with comprehensive policies and codes of conduct.

The latest progression of that is a trial with USAID and Mars Petcare where 50 Thai fishers on four vessels were trained in how to log their seafood catches digitally on an electronic tablet. Data from this e-log was relayed back to shore in real time by specially-installed satellite transmitters. The aim is to provide Thai Union with the wherewithal to verify which fish are being caught where.

Constant connectivity also allows crew members to connect with people back on land, reducing the chances of human rights abuses by making ships less isolated while out at sea.

A range of fish traceability schemes are now coming to market, all made possible by advances in mobile / tablet input technology and satellite connectivity options. More of the same, please!  

BIG DATA

New big data project to enhance safety at sea, via safety4sea.com

We noted an important development in Big Data recently, when Shell's Vice President of Shipping, launched HiLo, a predictive modelling tool for accident prevention in shipping. 

Noting the alarming statistic that shipping has a fatal accident rate five times that of construction, the launch materials outlined that the system aims to prevent ‘high-impact’ events like explosions, collisions and groundings by recording the frequent low-level incidents that are pre-cursors to major incidents.

Such a method stands on the shoulders of many other initiatives in other sectors. Having taken part in a panel at the excellent Digital Ship CIO conference at the back end of last year, we wrote of potential ways that shipping could learn from Big (and not necessarily just ‘Big’!) Data practices in other sectors, and this aligns very well with our thinking.

In particular, this echoes when New York City authorities successfully used predictive modelling to pinpoint buildings with a higher than normal fire risk by pulling in a much broader wealth of base information.

With HiLo, data from smaller, on first inspection non-threatening incidents can be interrogated and analysis can then be applied to target the specific areas in which safety should be improved onboard vessels. Rather than being inconsequential, these smaller incidents can all be looked viewed collectively – and with the right data analytics tools – as an early warning system.

Congratulations to Shell, Maersk (and a much broader collection of shipping companies mentioned in the article), Lloyd’s Register and the Lloyd’s Register Foundation for supporting this initiative. 

Perhaps the headline item in the article is how all of the shipping companies involved have contributed incident data to the system in its trial phase. Access to data is the key to the success of any such initiative, so it’s hugely encouraging to see so many companies understanding that viewing their own data in isolation will only ever be a fraction as powerful as seeing it supporting much broader analysis. When everyone shares (within agreed sensible boundaries), everyone wins.

AUTONOMY

China wants to start testing drone ships in the South China Sea, via SFgate.com

A recent report suggested that the South China Sea hosts an astonishing 55% of the world’s marine fishing vessels, with the ‘vast majority’ being Chinese. With that in mind, it is no surprise to learn that China is gearing up to look at the potential of unmanned vessels in these incredibly important waters.  

225 square nautical miles has been designated as a ‘test field’ for unmanned operations, which will allow autonomous vessels to undertake sea trials in relatively safe waters, so they can test core functions and such important elements as anti-collision systems.

Partners include the local Zhuhai government and Wuhan University of Technology, which has been investing in USV experiments for some time.

Please check back next week for more Blue Economy Technology news.