The day fishermen will start fishing data…

This article follows a private discussion with Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney in the summer of 2013. 


"I have worked with  marine professional for years, fitting electronic on ships of all size, shapes or forms, for all kinds of purposes". SEA-Tech is often the link between the research community and key players in the maritime industry.

For the past few months, we have worked very closely to fishermen around Ireland. We witnessed a new phenomenon, as for the first time fishing boat less than ten meters are bringing back to shore, a new type of catch all together. Since Ireland is looking at blue ocean wealth, data is the new gold scientists are mining out of the seas, to support their research. Air and water temperature, barometric pressure, chlorophyl, sand, wave height and frequency, velocity, minerals of all kinds, underwater sound and images are only samples of what’s returning to shore each day, somewhere in the world, to be studied.

seawork with sea tech

As a Marine ICT Engineer, a researcher and a college teacher, I firmly believe that in some not so distant future, fishermen will not "only sell" their daily catch, but also information data freshly farmed from the sea. On one hand we have scientist who need increasingly more data to support their research. On the other hands we have sea professionals, highly experienced and equipped to set to sea. 

Nowadays fishing boats have more and more electronic on board, and all the necessary resource to fish data which could be useful to the scientific community. Researchers are avid consumers of information data which could be brought back from the sea by fishermen. Data is a valuable asset,providing the right circuits of industry, are made available to exchange data for money.

A poor day fishing could quickly return it’s investment in fuel. if data collected by approved sensors on board was made available in a data centre, after the day. GPS etc…..


The world is becomming each day a bit more connected, house are smart, sea mammals are online too and your fridge can now restock online automatically the yoghurt you’ve just eaten with RFID technology, why not our fishing boats? Why ignoring any longer this opportunity? It happened before, when Matthew Fontaine Maury also known as "Pathfinder of the Seas" and "Father of Modern Oceanography and Naval Meteorology and later, began to publish his Wind and Current Charts—beginning with the North Atlantic in 1847— and to issue them free to mariners in exchange for abstract logs of the winds and currents of their voyages. The result was a series of charts and (after 1850) accompanying sailing directions that presented a climatic picture of the surface winds and currents for all the oceans.

Port of Cork invested over the past couple of years, into a SeaFi Horizon Data network, making the port data enabled. It’s the first of a kind, as other ports around the world will also unable this kind of service. Fishing vessels equipped with an S360 ship station could easily connect to the data centre and offload their daily harvest of data information from the sea. This is the future of fisheries and marine data farming. How much cost fuel and assets necessary to go at sea and harvest information data for the scientific community? How much are fisherman investing each time they go to sea hoping to bring back fish in their nets? The difference between daily catch return on investment could easily be supplemented by a daily catch of information stored on a hard drive and delivered to a  data bank. Of course SeaFi Horizon would have to be rolled out across the Irish fishing ports, infrastructure is needed, training is the most important element. One crew on each fishing vessel will have to be trained in collecting and storing data, which involve some disaster and recovery skills as well as Marine ICT… But it well worth the investment given what’s at stake.