The constantly-evolving CatchCam underwater camera aims to make it easy for fishermen to film their gear in action and gather evidence they would not otherwise be able to access.
On the coast of Scotland, in a town called Largs, Nephrops fisherman Ian Wightman gets ready for another day fishing his 10m trawler Eilidh Anne.
With 40 years of fishing experience under his belt, he still has some unanswered questions; “We think we know what is happening in the water, but we don’t have definitive proof.”
It’s from this perspective that CatchCam was created. The underwater camera aims to make it easy for fishermen to film their gear in action and gather evidence they would not be able to get otherwise.
“[With these cameras] we now have the opportunity to see how our nets are performing in the water. It means we can rig our nets to be more efficient, to catch as much as we’re allowed to catch in a shorter period of time,” shared Ian.
Ian is now not only a regular user of the camera, but also a valuable voice in the development of CatchCam.
Collaboration Leads to Better Catch
Developed by SafetyNet Technologies, CatchCam is testimony to many years of collaboration with fishermen across the United Kingdom and beyond.
Darren McClements, skipper of the 16m Nephrops vessel Golden Ray, shared; “The payback can be quick when you’re not fishing right. Seeing the problem lets you fix it straight away, and I’ve seen us find and fix an issue in one haul. To someone like us, that can be worth over £1,000 a day.”
The success of the first cameras came hand in hand with valuable feedback from the first CatchCam users. From a tweak in the camera size to the need for extended battery performance, the underwater camera is now a practical tool that is tough enough for mobile gears yet small enough for static gear.
Ultimately, the goal is to use the camera to help fishermen catch their target species more efficiently and sustainably.
Underwater Eyes on the Net
SafetyNet Technologies is in the process of building an impressive library of underwater footage captured by the CatchCam camera. Some of these videos are visually captivating, while others provide valuable insights into what is happening in the gear.
Skipper Ryan of the Chloe Ella said; “The days of hanging over the side to see how the shoes on trawl doors are polishing may be a thing of the past.”
This year, we have also seen the underwater camera attached to dredge gear on the Georges Bank scallop grounds, in the United States.
Captain of the K.A.T.E. II, Billy Hullbig, shared; “I was skeptical at first, but the CatchCam proved to be very versatile and durable, logging over 2500 videos. With some simple ingenuity, we were able to mount it all over the dredge and its gear.”
Adapting to Every Challenge
Recognising that fisheries are diverse and fishermen need a camera solution that works across multiple fisheries presents unique challenges and, as a result, a continuous need for the CatchCam camera to adapt and evolve.
The new 800m variant of CatchCam illustrates this point, as do the brighter 500-lumens Lamp and the configurability offered via the CatchCam App.
Next year will also bring some new features. For instance, the current camera dome will be swapped for a flat one to reduce the risk of scratching. Plus, some new elements promise to simplify the editing and sharing of underwater footage.
To that, the current CTO of the company, Aran Dasan, adds; “We have been guided by our customers all along. What at times might seem like a crazy idea can, in fact, turn into a really useful feature.”
For footage and more information, visit SafetyNet Technologies’ website.