Innovative technology developed by a company located on North Shields’ historic fish quay is helping commercial fishermen comply with the complex regulations that now govern their activities.
CNV Systems, which trades as Succorfish, was founded five years ago by Chad Hooper, a local man with family fishing industry connections.
It has developed a vessel-monitoring system using real-time satellite and mobile phone technology, coupled with online tracking software to relay data back to a password protected website.
The data, which gives information on the vessel’s position and on whether it is currently fishing, is transmitted to regulatory authorities and also stored on Succorfish servers for later reference.
Sales of the SC2 unit, no bigger than a cigarette packet and costing around £1,000, are expected to quadruple Succorfish’s annual turnover in the current year to £2.5m.
This is because, from January 1 2012, European Union regulations that require fishing vessels to have positional monitoring systems on board have been extended to vessels of more than 12 metres in length, down from 15 metres previously.
The SC2 technology, similar to that used to track the position of lorries as they are driven, will also help fishermen with the impending introduction of marine protected areas.
These are conservation zones, some including historical fishing grounds, where fishing will be banned. By permitting precise monitoring of boat positions and activities, the technology should help vessels legally access areas near protected zones so fishing can continue.
“We’re working very hard to make sure there’s a fishing industry there for the future,” says Mr Hooper.
Fishermen in Dorset have taken part in UK government-funded trials of the SC2, run by the Marine Management Organisation.
Succorfish is already selling the SC2 overseas, including in the US, South Africa and Namibia.
It is also developing a system, incorporating a transmitter worn by fishermen, to help save those who fall overboard.
Between 1992 and 2006, a third of the 256 fishermen who died in UK fishing vessel accidents lost their lives in this way.