Combining data sources

Options are there to combine data from a fishing vessel’s own sensors with satellite data to provide information on conditions in the immediate vicinity. Nichimo believes that this is likely to be key to better fishing operations.

There are hopes that satellite data will also help fishermen plot more fuel-efficient routes, fish more efficiently, and avoid bad weather. With natural disasters a frequent occurrence in Japan, Takahiro Morioka says that it’s vital to help reduce risk by warning fishermen in advance with information on approaching typhoons or sudden, rapid tides. Nichimo is currently in discussion with OceanEyes to develop an alert system for set net fishermen.

It’s also looking for support from telecommunications firms, in the hope that conditions in areas that are further from land will become easier to predict.

Mapping cloud cover with satellite imagery

‘The further out to sea you go, the more you are going to be out of range,’ he said.

‘This is one of the biggest obstacles that we face, and venture companies will be unable to address it by themselves so telecommunications firms will be key. This work really highlights the importance of co-operation and making contact with as many companies and organisations as we can.’

‘Another issue we will need to work on is feedback from fishermen,’ he continued.

A fishing vessel's own data can be combined with satellite data to provide a comprehensive picture

‘Even if we become able to accurately predict good fishing grounds, without input from fishermen we will not be able to improve our system. We will always have a large amount of data, and that data is only going to become more and more accurate, so getting the fishermen on board and enabling them to share their thoughts with us is going to be one of our critical roles.’

Not only do satellite data provide a powerful tool for improved fishing operations but they can also help assess existing conditions at sea and accelerate the development of new approaches for fishermen so they can respond to changing ocean conditions and increase the efficiency of their work, Takahiro Morioka said, commenting that science and satellite data will continue to make advances.

So another key focus will be the training and development of a workforce that is able to use such data amidst change and make the most of science in a forward-thinking manner, and fishermen who understand how to use the information that is given to them.

‘Older fishermen in Japan want to share their skills and knowledge with the younger generation but often they don’t know how to’ he said.

‘They also write down their knowledge by hand rather than store it on a computer so our role is to convert that information into data, ensure that it’s accurate and help fishermen become more open towards fields such as tablets, online data and how they can use such things to their advantage. Bringing different parties together and ensuring that everyone can benefit from this type of connection is going to be ideal.’