Finance & Insurance, Fishing Gear, Yards & Services, News

Bring ‘Em Back Alive

Today's fishermen face the challenges of a competitive market in which sophisticated equipment plays a crucial role. They rely on the latest technology to enable them to fill their quotas in a cost-efficient and effective way. Norwegian complete package solutions...

Norwegian firms have every intention of taking part in the development of a sustainable fishing fleet and know that this entails the development of more efficient fishing methods as well as a better utilization of all the raw materials brought onboard the fishing vessel. Great focus is also being placed upon increasing the safety level and creating a better working environment aboard the vessels. This will also help to safeguard recruitment to the trade. Keywords for the activities for fish technology are:

– New vessel concepts, machinery and equipment
– Energy economizing and environmental initiatives for the fishing fleet
– Safety and the working environment
– Information and communication technology (ICT)
– Design, control and handling of the equipment
– Treatment of the catch aboard

Simrad’s ITI systems provide the skipper with the exact position of the gear and what is happening in and around the trawl – all the crucial information needed for effective, profitable and responsible fishing.

Fish Detection Technology

Fish detection measures cover both the needs of fish farmers to know the exact size of their catch and the needs of fish trawlers to accurately locate fish. Both factors are of considerable importance in order to ensure that quotas are filled in accordance with legislation regulating both size and location of the catch.

It has traditionally been difficult for fish farmers to estimate weights and fish counts – important information, given that these figures will determine how he or she is paid. The fish are usually transported by well boats to specialized slaughterhouses, where they are vacuumed or netted out of sea cages. These are full of fish from a particular year/class whose individual sizes vary. The quantities and size distributions have therefore tended to involve a certain amount of guesswork. Thankfully, SINTEF’s fish-counting project is changing this situation for the better.

“With the help of a video camera, lights, mirrors and a computer, the fish are photographed from two different angles as they pass through a transparent section of the pipe that sucks them out of the sea cage and into the boat. On the basis of these images, their volume and thus their weight can be calculated,” said project manager Jens T. Thielemann of SINTEF Electronics and Cybernetics to GEMINI. Information about the size, weight and numbers involved enables the slaughterhouse to prepare for its part of the job, while the farmer knows exactly how many fish he has delivered.

The biggest problem with the system in its earlier incarnation was that of separating fish that entered the counter at almost the same time, but this has been resolved with the help of image analysis and high-speed electronics. Smolt can be counted at a rate of 50 per second, twice as fast as the image refresh rate on a TV screen. The error rate – the difference between measurements and control weighing – is only 3 %.

The fish counter was developed in cooperation with Brdr. Wingan A/S in Sundlandet, and is already in use onboard eight well boats in Norway and abroad. The fish counter can process up to 100 tonnes of salmon weighing from 2 to 10 kg each, or 180,000 smolt with weights of 20 g to 5 kg. For shorter periods of time, the counters can double these rates.

Combining sonars and trawl instrumentation allows for accurate logistics and precise counting when at sea. Norwegian companies such as Simrad, a subsidiary of the Kongsberg Group, have developed systems that are designed to utilize the minimum of transponders to achieve a full overview of the trawl geometry and the true movement over the sea bottom. The Simrad ITI Geometry system provides measurements for vessel to starboard door, vessel to port door and vessel to centre weight. The Geometry system will also measure the distances between the centre weight and both trawl doors. The system can be expanded to provide a wide variety of data. On the centre weight, the Twin Combi sensor is placed to detect bottom contact and water temperature. The Trawl Eye sensor and the Height sensor can be placed in the trawl openings to detect trawl heights, bottom contact and fish entering the trawl. In addition, catch sensors can be mounted on both cod ends to measure the amount of fish caught.

Another addition is Simrad’s ITI Trawl Eye, the latest achievement in wireless net sounding, which gives full control of what happens in the trawl opening. The sensor has a highly sophisticated echo sounder, which gives information regarding the fish in the trawl opening, the height of the trawl and clearance to the ocean bottom. The amount of fish in the opening is clearly displayed and the density of fish shown by the echo strength. The footrope and bottom echo are constantly monitored, which gives information about the opening and behaviour of the trawl when bottom trawling. The information is displayed as an easy-to-understand echo sounder picture. The Trawl Eye is optimized for bottom and medium-sized pelagic trawlers.

From Waste to Profit

By-products from the fishing and aquaculture industries are valuable resources, as long as they are handled properly from the very beginning and suitably processed. Turned into fish oil, food additives or raw materials for the cosmetics industry, “waste” from the marine industry could become a product in high demand.

“German buyers have even suggested that the by-products of the fishing industry could be worth more than the filleted fish itself,” says Jan Buljo of SINTEF Industrial Management. Buljo headed a project entitled “Utilization of by-products from the fishing and aquaculture industries” that looked into this very topic. The project analyzed market potential, prices, management routines and the necessity for a well-developed network. The raw materials involved are fish entrails, heads and bones, and the shells and entrails of crabs and shellfish.

The raw materials must be treated correctly and sorted at source because they break down so rapidly. The easiest products to extract are marine oils and fishmeal. Marine oils are rich in enzymes and minerals, and are in great demand in the pharmaceutical, cosmetics and health-food industries, while fishmeal can be utilized as a taste enhancer, food supplement or animal feed. Fishmeal is also used as a crisis food in disaster and war zones.

“Utilization of by-products” is a Regional Innovation (Reginn) project financed by the The Research Council of Norway, in which the marine industry, several public-sector bodies, and research groups from SINTEF Industrial Management, Allforsk and SINTEF Fisheries and Aquaculture are involved.

Keeping Fish in the Cold

Landing of whole fish requires that it be handled according to regulations and refrigerated quickly onboard. This requires a good and efficient logistics system. The growth in the sales of easily perishable food has brought many fresh food products onto the market in recent years. Such products typically have very reduced shelf life compared with frozen food. Superchilling or the short-term exposure of products to a temperature range of -1°C to -3°C results in partial freezing and ice formation in tissue.

A research project at SINTEF will focus on developing knowledge of thermal transport mechanisms and how to calculate chilling time, ice accumulation, temperature developments and suitable technology for this application. This research is closely connected to academic work at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

Equipped to Do the Job

Advances in research require that solutions be created to put those ideas into practice, and Norwegian fishing gear companies are active in this arena. As discussed above, refrigeration is essential and Finsam Refrigeration not only assists in the safe transportation of fish, but also in the usage of by-products. The company designs and manufactures ISO standard reefer containers, specially-designed ISO containers, swap bodies and systems solutions for commercial and military use. Additionally, the company provides ice plants – which include both ice machines and ice handling equipment for both distribution and storage – for usage on land and onboard ships.

Finsam Refrigeration’s VD5-300 RSW flo-ice machine with pre-cooling.

In order to ensure good operation and high reliability, vessels must be equipped with the right deck machinery. And a focus on innovation is of paramount importance if fishermen are to meet the needs of an increasingly demanding market and industry legislative requirements. Karmøy Winch AS sells inventive deck equipment worldwide and manufactures most types of deck machinery for ships whilst also offering a complete package of system design and engineering for fishing vessels, tankers, tugs, anchor handling and supply vessels.

Leadrope, megafloats, gill nets, net rigging, rope, beaded lead, float cords, netting, fish farming nets and traps all form part of the fisherman’s daily life. A company worth mentioning here is Refa Frøystad Group AS. Since its 2003 fusion with Refa Fiskeredskaper AS, the firm has widened its product range and has the capacity to develop the tools required for forward-looking fishing techniques.