Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, and Fisheries Minister, Richard Benyon, have put their weight behind a new hi-tech vessel monitoring system that has been designed by North Shields-based company, Succorfish, to specifically improve commercial fishing whilst saving marine protected areas.
Government officials visiting local fishermen trialling the device in Lyme Bay, Dorset, saw first hand how Succorfish’s SC2 global tracking system can allow fishermen to monitor their position to within one metre worldwide without breaching protected zones which would otherwise endanger marine habitats and damage the seabed.
Trials funded by Defra and carried out by the Marine Management Organisation have shown how fishermen can prove exactly where their vessel is operating minute by minute via satellite technology, a requirement being introduced under EU legislation in Jan 2012. This will allow them to work alongside environmental groups such as Natural England to potentially open up ‘closed waters’ in sensitive areas.
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman commented, “This groundbreaking equipment proves just how innovative the UK fishing industry is. By embracing new technology, it shows that the sector is ready and able to respond positively to the need to protect the marine environment while continuing to make a living from the sea.”
Following the Marine Management Organisation’s evaluation of this trial, expected in Spring 2012, the Government hopes that fishermen around the country will be able to adopt this new technology to help ensure that fishing can continue without damaging sensitive marine habitats.
George Henricks, Commercial Director of Succorfish which developed the SC2 system added, “In essence, we are bringing together three parties within one industry and giving them one solution to a major problem, not just here in the UK but worldwide. Commercial fishermen need to sustain and boost their livelihoods and the SC2 will allow them to do so legally whilst improving overall fishing methods.
“Similarly, marine authorities and environmental groups need to monitor and protect vast areas of water from damage or overfishing and must have a means of doing so effectively and within EU guidelines. The SC2 will allow them to work alongside commercial fishermen to gather invaluable fishing and environmental data to support a sustainable fishing policy whilst controlling fishing grounds from illegal practices.
“It is a bespoke, low cost device designed specifically for the marine industry and we are delighted with the response from all those involved.”
Succorfish has worked closely with UK industry authorities, Seafish, and CEFAS, and received funding from Defra as part of its remit to undertake economic and social research in the marine environment, to design and develop the SC2. It was recently launched in front of local fishing administrations, naval enforcement representatives, government bodies and members of regional fishermens’ associations.
Chairman of the South West Inshore Fisheries Association and vessel owner, Nick Prust, is one of many commercial fishermen now hailing the system as a possible answer to a worldwide industry problem. He explained, “Fishermen, in general, are working in a tough and often challenging environment therefore when a product becomes integral to the way that you operate, regardless of your methods, it makes a huge difference.
“Having taken part in the trials, it has proved to give much greater access to fishing grounds and report back instantly. It solves a huge problem for the industry.”
The SC2 uses real time satellite and mobile phone technology, as well as online tracking software to relay data back to a password protected website. For vessels 15m and over, it is also e-log ready and directly interfaces with a specialist, state-of-the-art catch reporting software system via a global satellite network.
To order SC2 or other Succorfish products, please contact Andrew Masson at UK distributor, Selex Elsag, on t | 01346 518 187 or e | firstname.lastname@example.org
ENDS Dec 2011