Innovation in deep-sea fishing: How we avoid by-catch and protect the oceans

With oXeanpedia we make a small contribution to minimize the impact of fishing on the ecology of the oceans.

For the fifth time in a row, thyssenkrupp is among the 100 most active companies in the ranking of the European Patent Office. In 2019 alone, the group filed more than 600 patent applications worldwide. This strength in innovation and the aim of developing the technologies of tomorrow already today also motivated our specialists at thyssenkrupp Marine Systems in the development of the oXeanpedia underwater vehicle. The autonomous vehicle for sustainable deep-sea fishing designed to protect the biodiversity of our oceans is one of more than 22,000 innovations protected in the company's 125-year patent history.

Even today, deep-sea fisheries are still under great pressure to fish both sustainably and cost-effectively. Above all, unwanted by-catch is a major problem in the industry: despite sophisticated technology on board and years of experience, captains can never know for sure exactly how a shoal of fish in their proximity is composed. The result: in addition to the target fish, large quantities of other fish species and marine animals go into the fishermen’s nets and cost them valuable revenue. This is because the by-catch cannot simply be thrown back into the water. Instead, the fishermen have to bring their unloved prey ashore and sell it at low prices to fishmeal producers. A situation that neither fishermen nor fish are happy about.

 

To make fishing more lucrative for fish farms and protect the ecology of the oceans from unnecessary by-catch, developers at thyssenkrupp Marine Systems have developed an autonomous underwater vehicle called oXeanpedia, which allows fishermen to check exactly what kind of fish swarm is in their immediate vicinity before casting their nets. The patented technology uses a camera to determine fish species and size ranges so that the fisherman can avoid catching a shoal of juveniles or a mixed shoal containing fish which are considered to be by-catch.

This basic technology has already been protected by patent DE 10 2017 216 608 B3. In the meantime, seven further patent applications have been filed, covering topics such as efficient production methods, navigation, optical detection or resumption of the underwater vehicle. For example, oXeanpedia uses underwater intelligent algorithms to traverse the shoal of fish particularly efficiently and to get a representative image of the fish. To identify the fish, methods based on artificial intelligence are used. This enables the system to quickly learn which fish it sees in a swarm.

In order to make oXeanpedia easy to use in everyday fishing, the underwater vehicle has been designed to be easily thrown overboard by a fisherman alone and easily retrieved back onto the ship. This way thyssenkrupp is making a small contribution to minimizing the impact of fishing on the ecology of the world’s oceans.

thyssenkrupp's patent department is one of the oldest in the country. Each year the colleagues protect around 600 new innovations through patents.