The fishing industry in the EU is one of the largest sources of employment and food, providing more than 7.5 million tons of fish and over 526,000 jobs. 88% of this workforce is employed in the service of SMEs. The European SMEs in this sector are under severe pressure to improve efficiency and ensure safety in fishing activities and aquaculture explorations while being increasingly obliged to reduce harmful environmental effects. There is a need to continuously monitor the behavior of aquaculture cages to prevent the anchoring cables from breaking and resulting in the loss of species. Additionally, in the case of the nets used by fisheries for trawling, accidents due to overloaded nets must be avoided. A system for monitoring the degradation of ropes and cables which is able to provide predictive data and activate timely corrective actions was required.
The Smartcatch project developed a solution for continuously monitoring the condition of the ropes and cables used in fishing nets and the anchoring systems of aquaculture cages. By installing sensors into these components, information about the degree of deterioration and elongation can be obtained using technology which is based on the effect of phase transformation found in shape memory alloys. The signal generated by the sensors can be sent to a central monitor through a wireless transmission system. Having information about the status of each individual element within the overall system means that action can be taken to prevent breakages and accidents. The monitoring system can be installed in multiple types of ropes and its usage increases the profitability of aquaculture farms while improving efficiency and safety in fishing activities.