Donegal fishing company to track crab pots via new wireless system

14 Jun 2013

Brian McBride, captain, Peadar Elaine II; Dr Jim Morrison, LYIT; Dr Nick Timmons from WiSAR Lab at LYIT; fisherman Pete McBride; and Sufian Al Aswad, WiSAR Lab manager

A new technological solution that could have the potential to revolutionise the fishing industry is being developed at Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LYIT) as a result of one Donegal fishing company’s problems in tracking crab pots while out at sea.

It was last year that brothers Hugh and Peter McBride of McBride Fishing, a family-run business based in Downings, Co Donegal, approached the WiSAR Lab at LYIT to investigate if there was a way of developing technology to tackle the problem of keeping track of crab pots.

The loss of crab pots during the fishing season is a recurring problem for the industry.

Researchers at the WiSAR Lab have since designed a wireless system to monitor the crab fishing process.

The system will work by recording the number of fishing pots deployed during the hauling operation, counting and recording the number of caught crabs. It will also be able to record sea-bed temperature, location and depth readings using wireless and GPS technologies, according to the team at the WiSAR Lab.

Their research has been partly funded under Enterprise Ireland’s Innovation Partnership scheme.

Peter McBride believes the new system will have many potential uses for the company, such as enabling daily and weekly reports to keep a stocktake of crab pots.

“This technology will allow us to gauge both the lifespan of the crab pots and of our ropes,” he said, adding that it would help the company keep its costs down.

“It will also count the number of crab coming into the vessels to give us exact percentages of caught crab so we should be able to locate the more beneficial fishing areas,” said McBride.

Sufian Al Aswad, who manages the WiSAR Lab, said the introduction of wireless sensor technology into the fishing industry is in itself innovative.

“Developing an accurate counting system for fishing pots, caught crabs, sea bed temperature readings and GPS mappings is going to play a major role in assisting the Irish fishing industry in shaping future strategies,” he said.

Michael Gallagher of Bord Iascaigh Mhara said the solution, when developed, should have wider applications for the fishing industry.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic