SeafoodSource: Nova Scotian tech startup revolutionizes bottom-trawling equipment

New "eco-friendly" trawling system is set for commercial release this year.

by | February 28, 2024

New technology ensures less bycatch & impacts on sea beds by bottom trawls with higher target catches

Katchi is a tech start up in Nova Scotia that touts itself as leading the way in “Precision Fish Harvesting.”

It received a $3.3 million award from Ocean Cluster Canada to develop a SmartNet using herding and deterring technology. It also seeks to deploy uncrewed service vessels (USVs) to improve the efficiency of conventional trawl fishing, according to a press release.

The release adds: “The fully integrated solution uses hydrodynamic blocks on the top and bottom of the net to ensure the net remains open, replacing existing trawl doors and reducing fuel consumption/GHG.  The vessel’s depth sounder maps the seabed in advance of the net and communicates with the winches to automatically adjust cable payout.  This enables the net to move up and down the water column to the desired depth specified by the fishers.  The system also ensures that the net does not come in contact with the seabed and instead remains close by hugging bottom contours features and avoiding obstacles.”

With our system, fishers improve their catches with less work and time; the ocean floor isn’t damaged and fewer greenhouse gasses are emitted; by-catch is reduced and fish stocks are given a chance to rebound; and the world enjoys a sustainable source of ocean protein.

katchi

Here’s more from Emma Desrochers at Seafood Source
February 23, 2024

The negative effects of bottom trawling on not only marine environments but local economies and societies have been the focus of several recent studies, with certain NGOs calling for a stop to the practice altogether.

Despite supplying a quarter of the world’s seafood, fishing via bottom trawling has sparked a longstanding debate on its impacts, including its potential harmful effects on deepwater ecosystems and the levels of carbon emissions it generates. In addition to NGOs requesting a complete elimination of the practice, there were calls in 2022 for bottom trawling to be replaced in the E.U. with less impactful fishing gear.

A Canadian startup is trying to find a middle ground, in which bottom trawling can continue while limiting the practice’s negative impacts on critical seabed environments.

“I don’t think it should be [viewed] as negative as it is. Fishers in general are very concerned about the sustainability of their industry, but they just don’t have the tools that allow them to fish it differently,” Angie Greene, the CFO of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada-based startup Katchi, said. “They just get tighter and tighter regulations without anything to help do it differently. Our solution, I feel, bridges the gap between both initiatives [ensuring environmental sustainability while protecting fishers’ livelihoods] and helps them to work together.”

Katchi’s solution is bottom-trawling equipment it pioneered that is designed to reduce fuel consumption, minimize equipment damage, and preserve sensitive seafloor environments.

The idea for such a project started with Katchi Founder and CEO Marc d’Entremont, who envisioned a fish-harvesting system that eliminates or at least minimizes disturbance to the ocean floor while enhancing commercial catch efficiency, thereby cutting costs for fishermen.

With support from Halifax-based Dalhousie University, funding from Canada’s Ocean Supercluster, and collaboration with other partners, the system is set for commercial release in 2024.

“[On traditional vessels], there are currently two huge trawl doors situated in the trawl system that frequently have to be brought to the welding shop for repairs, and then, thousands of dollars later, they get reinstalled on the vessel, and you can go out again. It delays your trip. It’s expensive, and sometimes, trawlers can lose most of their net system due to snagging the bottom [of the ocean],” Greene said. “[Katchi’s system] is going to reduce the impact of expenses like maintenance and fuel consumption because you are no longer touching the seafloor, and on the environmental side, it reduces bycatch.”

Image credit: International Pacific Halibut Commission

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    About Laine

    Laine Welch has covered the Alaska fish beat for print and radio since 1988. She also has worked “behind the counter” at retail and wholesale seafood companies in Kodiak and on Cape Cod.

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