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Is the future of fishing above water..?

The fishing industry has seen tremendous changes over the last decades and we take the bet that this will evolve furthermore. The rise in use of drones for fishing purposes is here, and we're seeing a real shift in country regulations to allow such uses. Drones have several advantages for fishing, as they allow to identify large fish banks from a distance, evaluate the gear needed or simply drop a line at the right spot.

The fishing industry and the fishermen

When we say "we're going fishing", we usually think of a rod able to cast a few meters away and hope we landed in the right spot at the right time. Drones can help the odds by carrying and releasing your line at the exact spot providing you have your launch pad if from the beach as seen in this short video.

Whilst being nice and fun to use, this technology won't help serve seafood on everyone's plate. Commercial fishing is now also in demand and more sophisticated tools are making their way helping professionals big times.

Sailing vessels used a crow’s nest as a vantage point to spot other ships, hazards, land or, in the case of fishing ships, fish schools near the surface, long before radar was invented. Fishermen have always relied on the understanding of the elements to guide them: the water current, its temperature, the direction of the wind and its humidity are important information used to locate fish. Now, drones are bringing some fish finding technology back above the water.

Modern times have given fishermen new tools to search for fish schools, from the radar or sonar to GPS. Fish shoal and school together because large numbers gives them some kind of protection against some of their natural predators. The same critical mass that provides the safety of numbers also makes them easier to spot.

Drones make it more accessible to search for large quantities of fish or in some cases, large fish. While owners of bigger offshore fishing boats may have the economic means to use technologies like multibeam echosounders, small-boat operators may find that drones are an affordable solution to spot fish schools.

Solutions for vessels of any size

Planck Aerosystems is a San Diego-based company offering a range of products and technology to enable drone operations from moving vessels. While current drone technology does not facilitate landing on moving platforms, Planck’s technology solves these problems and allows the drone safe and reliable operation from moving boats. The company adds that “since it requires minimal installed hardware and very little deck space to operate, Planck’s navigation solutions enables drones for vessels of any size.”

One good example of the use of drones by operators of small boats comes from Australia. Roger Fourter’s great grandfather arrived in Eden in the mid 1800s, and for more than 150 years, the family has been fishing the waters of the New South Wales far south coast. When drones came out, he says, “and I saw what they could do, with a live feed back to a screen, I thought they’d be great for spotting fish. And they are. Fantastic.”

Drone fishing regulations

It’s important to understand what you can and can't do with drones in your respective country. For instance, many of them make the drop and carry functionality illegal and you could end up with serious problems if disregarding local regulations. When it comes to commercial fishing, some countries will require you to have a commercial drone licence as you're making profit with it.

Where you intend to fly your drone matters equally, don't fly in restricted aerial or above marine reserve zones.

Another example from Australia comes in play as for example sea mammals benefit of protective laws forbidding any flying engine to come close to them. Understand your surroundings and have a sound knowledge of your local drone rules before taking off.

It goes without much doubt that drones will become more efficient over time and provide a reliable new tool for the fishing industry. Some concerns remain and need to be addressed such as the depletion of our oceans and responsible fishing guidelines. Used appropriately, drones could help in preserving fish stocks by identifying where and what to fish before casting out nets. It remains ultimately the responsibility of each administration to ensure the use of this technology provides a sustainable alternative to today's short term practices.

💡 Help us improve this article by sharing your (or your country's) fishing drone practices and experiences in our Discussion Groups!

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Disclaimer: Although great care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information researched, we take no responsibility for any loss, harm or damage caused as a direct or indirect consequence of relying on this information. It is your responsibility to seek advice from qualified local & relevant authorities for needed information about local drone regulations.

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