Popular Mechanics

Dec 14 15Acknowledgements,Interviews,Panels,Press


The Omniscient Fishing Net

Fishing nets haven’t changed much since Jesus told Peter to favor the right side of his boat. You put the net in the water. You haul it in. You see what you got. Problem is, accidentally catching endangered fish can decimate their populations. And a catch containing prohibited fish can lead to a heavy fine for the fisherman. SmartCatch, a sustainable-seafood technology company, has developed a solution: a waterproof, self­-lighting camera and a trawl net you can control from afar. Now, fishermen can finally see what they’re catching before they catch it, which might even impress Jesus. -CAMERON JOHNSON

How It Works

1. The Camera

Fish can navigate in the darkness 500 fathoms under the ocean. Cameras, not so much. The DigiCatch is equipped with one rotatable high-definition cam­era with two video sensors that can be used simultaneously for color and black­ and-white viewing. It also has LED lights capable of producing 40,000 lumens and instruments that measure salinity, tem­perature, and depth.

2. The Net

If a fisherman sees that he is about to snag the wrong kind of fish, he’ll deploy the diverter on the SmartNet,which acts like a trapdoor. This will collapse a sec­tion of the net, allowing undesirable sea crea­tures to escape. Any fish already caught will remain trapped in the far end.

3. The Connection

Running up from the trawl net to the deck is a high-speed digital cable that allows for real-time viewing of the camera and manipulation of the net.The onboard end of the cable trans­mits to the computer via Wi-Fi, so the crew doesn’t trip over cords on deck.

4. The Fish

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Admin­istration, 17 percent of all fish caught are bycatch, or accidental haul. Most of these fish (also, sometimes, birds) die.


Originally printed in the December issue of Popular Mechanics.