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Automating fish catch reporting via Android or iOS smartphone.
CEFAS approached AST with a requirement for using new and innovative solutions for a pilot to reduce the bycatch of Spurdog and Cetaceans for circa 25 under 12 m fishing vessels.
AST developed a smartphone application, iCatch, which recorded catch, bycatch, gear type including the option to transmit a photograph of the bycatch shoreside. Simple to use and with pre-configured drop-down menus to reduce the time for the Fishers to complete the data.
It was decided to also supply a smartphone with a data-only SIM with the app to the Fishers. The smartphone to be used had to be carefully considered with durability and a long-life battery at the top of the list. A robust IP68 (waterproof) smartphone was sourced which had a longer than standard battery life, to last at least a day’s fishing with accelerated reporting, as well as being robust and durable. The phone functionality was then locked down to only the bycatch app to safeguard against extra costs being incurred by inappropriate use.
AST and CEFAS working closely together during the roll-out phase most of the technical support effort were required at the outset to support the less IT familiar fishers.
The GAP Guardian app provided the tracking functionality for this project.
Training for the fishers to use this tracking app was straight forward and the biggest hurdle proved to be ensuring the Fishers ensured the phones were charged and onboard for the duration of their trip.
Although CEFAS only used this for its tracking purposes, other features available are monitoring, SMS text and SOS functionality that can be initiated and is obviously a popular feature for lone fishers.
Some of the same fishers also agreed to have an AVMS (Autonomous vessel monitoring system) placed onboard, which is designed for tracking small inshore vessels and is entirely solar powered with an internal battery, with no external power needed. Installation is so straight forward that the fishers could self-install.
This by-catch avoidance programme is still operational and has proved to be a success with both the fishers’ participating and the data being collated by CEFAS.