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Award Winning Project Helps In Hunting Illegal Fishing

Illegal fishing and overfishing deplete fish stocks worldwide,

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Fish are seen in a fish market near the canal of Port Said, Egypt, March 18, 2018.
Fish are seen in a fish market near the canal of Port Said, Egypt, March 18, 2018. VOA

Drones guided by artificial intelligence to catch boats netting fish where they shouldn’t were among the winners of a marine protection award on Friday and could soon be deployed to fight illegal fishing, organizers said.

The award-winning project aims to help authorities hunt down illegal fishing boats using drones fitted with cameras that can monitor large swaths of water autonomously.

Illegal fishing and overfishing deplete fish stocks worldwide, causing billions of dollars in losses a year and threatening the livelihoods of rural coastal communities, according to the United Nations.

The National Geographic Society awarded the project, co-developed by Morocco-based company ATLAN Space, and two other innovations $150,000 each to implement their plans as it marked World Oceans Day on Friday.

The aircraft can cover a range of up to 700 km (435 miles) and use artificial intelligence (AI) technology to drive them in search of fishing vessels, said ATLAN Space’s founder, Badr Idrissi.

“Once (the drone) detects something, it goes there and identifies what it’s seeing,” Idrissi told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

Idrissi said the technology, which is to be piloted in the Seychelles later this year, was more effective than traditional sea patrols and allowed coast guards to save money and time.

From satellites tracking trawlers on the high seas to computer algorithms identifying illegal behaviors, new technologies are increasingly coming to the aid of coast guards worldwide.

The head of a model fish is seen hanging in front a banner during a protest against overfishing outside the European Union Council in Brussels, May 13, 2013.
The head of a model fish is seen hanging in front a banner during a protest against overfishing outside the European Union Council in Brussels, May 13, 2013. VOA

AI allows the drones to check a boat’s identification number, establish whether it is fishing inside a protected area or without permit, verify whether it is known to authorities and count people on board, Idrissi said.

If something appears to be wrong, it can alert authorities.

Other winners were Marine Conservation Cambodia, which uses underwater concrete blocks to impede the use of bottom-dragged nets, and U.S.-based Pelagic Data Systems, which plans to combat illegal fishing in Thailand with tracking technologies.

“The innovations from the three winning teams have the potential to greatly increase sustainable fishing in coastal systems,” National Geographic Society’s chief scientist Jonathan Baillie said in a statement.

Much of the world’s fish stocks are overfished or fully exploited, according the U.N. food agency, and fish consumption rose above 20 kilograms per person in 2016 for the first time.

Fish swim in the Mediterranean sea on the south coast of the Balearic island of Mallorca, Spain.
Fish swim in the Mediterranean sea on the south coast of the Balearic island of Mallorca, Spain. VOA

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Global marine catches have declined by 1.2 million tons a year since 1996, according to The Sea Around Us, a research initiative involving the University of British Columbia and the University of Western Australia. (VOA)

Next Story

Here’s How Fish Sticks Can Generate Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Shipping has a massive influence on climate and a shift to cleaner fuels will diminish the cooling effect from sulfur oxides and increase the climate impact

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A study found that Alaskan pollock is a relatively fuel-efficient fishery: Pollock are caught in large nets called midwater trawls that are towed behind boats, hauling in a lot of fish in each landing and reducing the climate impact of the fishing process. Pixabay

Researchers have found that transforming ‘Alaskan pollock’ into fish sticks, imitation crab and fish fillets generates nearly twice the greenhouse gas emissions produced by fishing itself.

Post-catch processing generates nearly twice the emissions produced by fishing itself, which is typically where the analysis of the climate impact of seafood ends, according to the findings, published in the journal Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene.

“The food system is a significant source of global greenhouse gas emissions, and Alaskan pollock is one of the biggest fisheries in the world,” said study researcher Brandi McKuin from Unviersity of California in the US.

“These findings highlight the need to take a comprehensive approach to analysing the climate impacts of the food sector,” McKuin added. “Alaskan pollock is sold as fillets and trim pieces that are used to make products like fish sticks and imitation crab, it’s a huge market,” she said.

Unlike previous studies that have largely overlooked the downstream processing activities associated with Alaskan pollock, this study examined all the components of the supply chain, from fishing through the retail display case.

The results identify “hot spots” where the seafood industry could concentrate its efforts to reduce its climate impacts, said the researchers. For the findings, the research team analysed the climate impacts of transoceanic shipping of exported seafood products.

They found that Alaskan pollock is a relatively fuel-efficient fishery: Pollock are caught in large nets called midwater trawls that are towed behind boats, hauling in a lot of fish in each landing and reducing the climate impact of the fishing process.

After the catch, Alaskan pollock are shipped for processing, and in some cases, transported on large container ships that burn copious amounts of fuel, including cheaper, poor-quality bunker fuel that produces high levels of sulfur particles. The researchers noted that sulfur oxides from ship fuels have a climate-cooling effect.

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Post-catch processing of fish generates nearly twice the emissions produced by fishing itself, which is typically where the analysis of the climate impact of seafood ends, according to the findings, published in the journal Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene. Pixabay

“Seafood products that are exported have a lower climate impact than domestic seafood products,” she said, adding that the climate impacts of shipping will change this year as new regulations for cleaner marine fuels take effect.

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“Shipping has a massive influence on climate and a shift to cleaner fuels will diminish the cooling effect from sulfur oxides and increase the climate impact of products that undergo transoceanic shipping, including seafood,” said McKuin. (IANS)