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How to keep fisheries sustainable - and safe

31 May 2018 by Tone-Merete Hansen
There is much talk of sustainability these days, and with good reason. We are at a point in history where we have a chance to turn a negative trend around, to stop depleting and damaging the resources of our planet, and start protecting and preserving them.

Few would dispute that the oceans represent one of our most critical and valuable resources. More than 250 million people depend directly on fisheries and aquaculture for their livelihood, and more than one billion people in poorer countries rely on fish as their primary source of nutrition. Of the 17 UN sustainability goals we have to meet to turn the trend, goal number 14 focuses on life below water: To conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources.

As the numbers indicate, fishery is a vital industry for the world’s population. Unfortunately, as illustrated in several recent reports, fishery has historically had a high rate of accidents, and with large-scale fishing, new challenges arise.

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Governments are now working with shipowners and fishermen around the world to better understand the cause of accidents, and all parties are keen to find new solutions to this persisting problem. A recent survey from the Nordic Council of Ministers on prevention of accidents in Nordic fisheries reported the following: “The fishermen’s assessment of safety training and education shows that it has been an extremely important element in the prevention of occupational accidents and in promoting safety in general.”

Can simulators provide the solution?

KONGSBERG is a developer and supplier of technologies that can help the fisheries industry meet the dual challenge of safety and sustainability: Simulators for safety training of seafarers and fishermen, and sensor systems to help them find and catch fish in the most sustainable manner possible. As senior vice president for maritime simulation in Kongsberg Digital, one part of my job particularly close to my heart is finding ways in which advanced maritime simulation can support the UN Sustainability Goals, and provide a safer working environment for the people working in the maritime industries.

In March of 2018, Kongsberg Digital signed a contract with Lofoten Vocational School in northern Norway for development and delivery of a new fishery simulator with fish finding and catching applications. Integrated with echo sounders, sonars, and catch monitoring systems, the new installation will form a complete system for the education and competence development of fishing vessel crews.

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The solution allows students to become familiar with and operate different types of fishing gear while growing their understanding that different fishing techniques require different approaches, and that different fish species behave in different ways. They will learn how to plan a fishing campaign, and how to find, catch, and safely and efficiently store the fish, while monitoring vessel stability during the loading process.

The Lofoton Vocational contract is representative of the rising demand for fishing vessel-specific simulators that integrate all key operations on board, based on the IMO’s STCW requirements (STCW-F). These systems must be able to satisfy safety training requirements, accommodate the latest developments in fish finding and catching equipment, and support an increased focus on sustainable fishery and improved fish quality.

Simulator training can make the industry more sustainable

I truly believe, as does the IMO, that using a simulator as an advanced educational tool enables much better situational awareness than students would otherwise get in a classroom setting or by reading a book. With simulators, you enter a parallel reality where you can really test things and understand the consequences of your decisions. And you can gain this knowledge without putting your own health and safety or that of others at risk, and with no risk to assets or the environment.

In my last blog, I wrote about how to make maritime training accessible to all. KONGSBERG supplies hardware for training facilities, but we also want to make simulation available to a wider range of users and stakeholders – enabling them to train anywhere, anytime, and on any device – vastly increasing the safety of crew and the environment. This now applies equally to fisheries. Simulator training can help educate and protect commercial fishermen while moving the industry toward safer and more sustainable fishing practices for the future.

What do you think about applying digital technology to ensure sustainable, safe access to ocean resources for future generations? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Related links:

Why fish? The World Fish Center

 Watch CEO Geir Håøy and Prime Minister Erna Solberg discuss the importance of the UN sustainable development goals (Video in Norwegian)

About the writer
Tone-Merete Hansen
Tone-Merete Hansen is Senior Vice President of Maritime Simulation at Kongsberg Digital. She has been with KONGSBERG since 2008 and holds a master’s degree in economics and business administration. Her long experience from KONGSBERG has provided her with a unique understanding of the simulation needs of the maritime industry.