A new and robust underwater camera system, developed to allow fishers to monitor gear performance underwater, or the behaviour of shellfish entering or approaching pots, has received MMO funding for six trials onboard a variety of UK commercial fishing boats.

Previous work has tended to rely on expensive and bulky surface cables, or alternatively has involved small cameras, of limited quality, that then required fishers to sift through hours of footage when recovered from the gear, to find the most revealing pieces of footage.

Project Fisheye, which is running from January until March, will enable six trials of SNT-Cam on leading commercial vessels in the UK. During this field-testing phase by fishing crews, SafetyNet Technologies, the developer of the camera, is ensuring that the camera is rugged enough to withstand the intense fishing environment.

Nephrops and a squat lobster in a creel, in an image taken by a second SNT-Cam (another is seen hanging in the centre of this picture).

The camera comes with software that automatically sifts through footage taken, to save skippers and crew the work of doing so.

In addition, as a spokeperson for SafetyNet Technologies told Fishing News: “SNT is currently developing the camera to include a real-time clock and other useful functions that will allow a skipper to accurately measure impacts of a change of towing speed at a set time, for example, or putting out more warp, compared directly to seabed conditions during a tow.”

The results of the trials will be fed back to the developers to enable the camera, and internal software, to be fine-tuned before release onto the market.

SafetyNet Technologies added: “We have not yet explored if government funding would be available for SNT-Cam, but we will be doing so once it’s market- ready.”

Film footage taken during the development of the camera, monitoring the behaviour of a trawl can be viewed below…

This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here


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