CCFI Collaboration for Sustainable & Safe Harvesting Gear
The Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation (CCFI) had a busy 2022 advancing more than 20 research projects to promote beneficial innovations in the harvesting, processing, and aquaculture sectors. Among those were some exciting projects related to improving the sustainability, safety, and success of harvesting efforts on the water.

Rope On Command Sea Trials

As part of protecting the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale and other marine mammals from potential entanglement with fishing gear, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has been engaging fishing industry stakeholders on the development and implementation “whale safe gear.” Traditional harvesting gear involves placing fishing gear at or close to the bottom of the ocean to harvest various species, often with rope extending to floatation devices on the surface so that gear can later be found and retrieved. It is these ropes that have been identified as posing significant entanglement threats, and priority has been placed on finding an alternative approach to harvesting. With that goal in mind, DFO enlisted the help of the Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation (CCFI) in 2022, capitalizing on the institute’s 30-year history of partnering with diverse industry stakeholders to advance innovations that strengthen Canada’s seafood industry. Over the course of 2022, CCFI has coordinated meaningful collaboration between innovators, researchers, harvesters, and regulatory officials with a view to augmenting current fishing equipment in ways that address concerns related to entanglement, while keeping harvesting gear user friendly and dependable for harvesters and the industry. Specifically, CCFI has
  • worked with Atlantic Canadian companies “Ashored Innovations” and “E-Sonar” to conduct sea trials of their “Rope on Command” device to test the equipment in the harsh and diverse marine environments found near Newfoundland and Labrador to make it more robust and adaptable to varying environmental conditions;
  • arranged to have local harvesters engage in the sea trials personally so that all project participants could avail of their expertise and assessment of the pros and cons of the new equipment; and
  • arranged information sessions with harvesters regarding the “Rope on Command” gear being trialled, with future sessions to be conducted that will demonstrate other types of rope-less gear to harvesters.
More news and developments can be expected to come in 2023 related to this important work, and CCFI will be well positioned and proud to help lead the discussion on next steps. CCFI will be officially launching new on-line resources in the form of a new website and social media channels where new developments about our work will be shared, and interested parties are encouraged to follow on-line, and learn more about the progress of this, and many other exciting projects in the coming year.

Evaluation of C Robotics “C Disc technology” for sea urchin harvesting

Urchin harvesting in NL is typically a late fall-winter fishery, as that is when roe yields are highest before spawn-out in April-June. That timeframe presents challenges for harvesting, mostly due to the poor weather and water conditions that divers must endure. Coupled with challenging conditions, minimizing bottom time for divers is an important safety consideration. The development of harvesting gear that could speed harvesting activity would not only achieve greater efficiency in the fishing effort, but also significantly improve health and safety considerations. Miawpukek Horizon Maritime Services (a diversified Indigenous marine services company) partnered with CCFI and Fisheries and Marine Institute researchers to test the effectiveness of a C-Disc harvesting tool developed by C Robotics in Norway that had potential to respond to industry needs. The unit is designed to increase the catch per unit effort while decreasing the time needed for a diver to be in the water. Testing the unit included:  
  • design evaluation at the Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Resources’ flume tank located at the Marine Institute;
  • a comparison of traditional scuba diver and C Disc assisted harvesting efficiency and effort; and
  • an assessment of the quality and size selectivity of harvests
The equipment performed well in its evaluation and sea trials, giving Miawpukek Horizon Maritime Services opportunity to consider how project results may enhance future harvests.

Using Artificial Intelligence to Estimate Northern Shrimp Abundance

In 2022, CCFI also engaged in a project partnership with three fishing industry associations to explore the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in developing a population assessment model for the Northern Shrimp resource off Eastern Canada. The three fishing industry partners involved in the project are the Canadian Association of Prawn Producers (CAPP), the Northern Coalition (NC) and the Nunavut Fisheries Association (NFA), who are working with CCFI to explore the use of AI in developing a population assessment model for the entire Northern Shrimp stock complex. To this point, no population model has been adopted for assessing the Northern Shrimp stock complex, or its individual components. While correlations between shrimp abundance and some environmental and ecosystem factors are able to be observed in some areas, there is little understanding of underlying population productivity and dynamics, and virtually none relative to the stock complex as a whole. This Project has the potential to contribute significantly to sustainable resource management by not only developing a population assessment model, but also using Artificial Intelligence to achieve Deep Learning (DL). DL is finding a larger role in human healthcare, manufacturing and banking, where optimization, speed, and accuracy are required. In collaboration with DFO NL Region scientists, experts from Canadian AI firm Intelleo AI Inc., are employing the first known use of this methodology for assessing and projecting fish stock abundance. Work continues into the New Year, and CCFI will be pleased to provide update information on the statis of the project upon its completion. “As Managing Director for CCFI, I am proud to lead an organization that is responsive to industry needs and priorities and works collaboratively with leading expertise to realize innovations that ensure Canada’s seafood industry is positioned to lead globally,” said Keith Hutchings, Managing Director, CCFI. “I encourage any company engaged in the harvesting, processing, or aquaculture sectors to reach out to CCFI in 2023 and explore how we might work together to enhance the sustainability, safety, and profitability of your operations.”

About Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation

The Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation (CCFI) is a not-for-profit Separately Incorporated Entity (SIE) of Memorial University. Since 1989, CCFI has supported industry related projects to drive innovation and technological advancements in solving industry problems related to the efficiency and profitability of those involved in the sectors. The Centre actively promotes research and development in the aquaculture, capture fishing, and fish processing sectors while utilizing both the human and facilities assets and resources of the Marine Institute, Memorial, and other academic and research institutions. CCFI works directly with industry to facilitate access to scientific and technological facilities to create projects that will immediately look to answer and/or address industry questions and work toward the adoption of new scientific data, technologies, and product developing knowledge. The Centre will collaborate with industry, funding agencies, and academic institutions to identify and secure the needed funding share arrangement for all partners.