Cover photo for Innovative Solution To End ‘Lost-Gear’ At Sea

Innovative Solution To End ‘Lost-Gear’ At Sea

The information from this article has been collected by Sustainability Ambassadors in our partner organisation DAN Europe, the largest diving safety organisation in the world. TOOL connected DAN Europe with PingMe for their sustainable tour. Find the original article in their blog. Abandoned gear at sea

Have you heard of ‘ghost-nets’?

They are fishing nets that have been abandoned at sea. They are so named because they continue to kill marine creatures that get trapped in them, even without human intervention. Fredrik Myhre, marine biologist and senior advisor in WWF-Norway says ghost fishing through lost or abandoned fishing gear is one of the major killers of fish, mammals, seabirds and invertebrates in the ocean every year. "We need to improve our knowledge about the amount of fishing gear that is being lost at sea and at the same time to be more efficient in recovering what is being put into the sea in the first place,” he says. Meet PingMe

Simplest ideas are generally the best, and when Norwegian-based Ocean Space Acoustics (OSAC) set about finding a solution, they collaborated with SINTEF, Norway’s largest research institute to work, not just towards achieving cleaner oceans but to also aid fishermen to avoid potential costly losses of fishing equipment. This collaboration has resulted in the patented ‘PingMe’ – a smart tool for tagging gear and objects underwater, making it easy to find and identify the lost gear.

PingMe will initially be on the market as an affordable ‘standalone’ system but work is already underway to provide a system that will allow for simple integration of the signal reader into any vessel’s existing sounder. As an added bonus, the PingMe service also reports location and ID to the ‘Cloud’ where the information is also stored. Data on lost, detected and retrieved gear is reported to the cloud, some of it automatically. This not only enables the fisherman to monitor the location of his gear but can also help avoid conflicts with other boats or fisheries who can use the system to detect where gears are working. Feedback from Fishermen

On the west coast of Ireland where harsh sea conditions are common, several lobster & crab pot fishermen are excited at the concept with one particular skipper commenting of the potential reduction in loss of gear as being of ‘huge benefit’.

"When my gear has been out for several days during stormy conditions, my only thought as I go to sea is ‘I wonder how many leaders of pots/traps will I have lost this time?” one fisherman said.

“Before even leaving my home, knowing that my gear is still where I left it, or at least if it has moved, that I will have the ability to go and find it would give me fantastic peace of mind,” he said, adding that a tool such as this which will reduce the major costs that fishermen face in replacing lost gear will be a ‘game changer’ for the industry.

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