Teem Fish

Teem Fish

Good reasons to embrace EM

Teem Fish’s system can bring immediate economic value to an individual or fleet, ticking enough regulatory boxes so that the fish is graded and enters the market in a different way to the same species that is caught by other means or by a non-regulated fishery.

Meanwhile, data sets that are available to all involved can result in less polarised conversations between regulators and industries and expand their ability to monitor. On a practical level, Teem Fish is building local capacity in areas such as small fishing communities where locals are hired as EM technicians and video analysts. Hopes are high that this will enable the communities to gain expertise in EM and that the data generated will lead to more informed decisions, allowing their fisheries to grow and thrive.

‘We train local people and work with fishing community members who understand the fishery. We do this because they tend to be the best video analysts,’ Amanda Barney explained.

‘We bring our hardware, data infrastructure, quality control and quality assurance mechanisms but look at local expertise and capacity and ask how they can help us deliver an EM programme. We may introduce some new technology or innovation to a fishery but that doesn’t mean that we have to send in our own technicians. It’s important to establish a situation in which a community feels like it has some form of ownership.’

A camera mounted high on a mast overlooking a fishing vessel’s deck

She believes that EM’s chances of success will be even greater if it’s embraced voluntarily. This will mean addressing fishermen’s concerns about the technology or a possible lack of privacy, or concerns over access to the data or mistrust in new systems.

To do this, Teem Fish works to supply a reliable, verifiable and accurate system and understands that fishermen and regulators will need more involvement and control over the technology and data. Offering an inclusive process in which data collection protocols can be developed with fishermen and regulators is one way to build confidence, she said.

‘People have been putting cameras on boats since the early 2000s, but it has taken a long time for global uptake because trust in the data being collected had to be built – people have to trust that the data collected is defendable and usable,’ she said.

The overhead camera’s view of the deck

‘Now that confidence in EM data has been established, we are seeing more regulatory uptake but always need to be working on establishing trust with the industry. We need to offer efficient, affordable and useful EM. Fishermen may not like the idea of cameras on their vessels, but if they believe that the cameras are useful, they may not feel as adverse.’

‘For fishermen in smaller scale fisheries, their vessels are their homes as well as their businesses,’ she continued.

‘It’s about having a bit of grace and saying I’m putting a camera on your home, it may be regulated but can we do it in a way that isn’t invasive? Can we talk about the value of the data and how it can be a useful business tool?’

A Teem Fish installation on board a fishing vessel

As Teem Fish navigates these challenges, it’s clear that EM is evolving. With more focus on the development of AI to rapidly identify patterns and particular pieces of information from large amounts of data, Amanda Barney says that EM has proven to be an effective data collection tool and now needs to be able to scale.

There is also a need to think further about data transmission, compression and long-term data storage. Teem Fish’s next step is to integrate AI not only into data collection but also into data review, and consider how its system could be applied to more selective fishing and to other areas such as aquaculture.