Nelson firm in first with 3D seabed mapping

Deep sea fishing vessels are trawling more efficiently thanks to 3D mapping technology developed by a Nelson firm.

Deep sea fishing vessels are trawling more efficiently thanks to 3D mapping technology developed by a Nelson firm.

Seabed Mapping International has spent $375,000 producing the Pinnacles Fishing Solution, helped by a six-figure grant from Technology New Zealand.

Both claim a world-first in creating software that produces digital topography of deep water fishing grounds for use on fishing vessels. The system allows companies to use it to identify prime fishing spots as well as reduce running and equipment costs.

A number of companies in New Zealand are already using the system, including Sealord and Pacific Trawling. The system has been sold to firms in Chile and Australia and companies in Japan, Spain and the UK are also showing interest in using the software, says Seabed Mapping.

Sealord vessel manager Paul Taylor the firm has trialled it for a year and says the 3D technology makes fishing operations more efficient. “We can better see the area to put the net in, or areas to avoid. We are also less likely to damage our equipment and by finding the better spots quicker we use less fuel. Impact on the [sea] bottom is also minimised as we can be more confident of where our gear is fishing.”

Seabed Mapping general manager Declan O’Toole says the maps are developed over time by a company’s fleet. The vessels collect data while at sea and return it to Seabed Mapping, which then returns the data as 2D and 3D maps and manages the database for the fishing company. The company has to process the latitude, longitude and depth data to produce the 3D maps.

Seabed Mapping says its turnover is slated to double this year and the two staff will increase to three.

The firm is working on creating a “real-time tie-in” to the system so fishers can track where their net is behind the boat and relative to the sea bottom. It plans to apply for more Tech NZ funding and hopes to have the project complete by the end of next summer.

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