UMass Dartmouth’s newly patented strategy would enhance fisheries management

UMass Dartmouth School of Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) researchers were
issued a U.S. patent on June 14 for a new strategy that employs an onboard 3D camera
system to help monitor commercial fishing vessels and manage depleted fish stocks
such as cod and flounder.

The system was designed by Dr. Brian Rothschild, retired founding dean of SMAST, in
collaboration with SMAST Department of Fisheries Oceanography graduate student Glenn
Chamberlain. The goal is to reduce the cost, improve the accuracy, and increase the
information during fishing vessel monitoring. Currently, the monitoring is done by
federal officials on board the fishing vessels, which is extremely costly.

“Broad-based and accurate counting of the fish being caught is critical to our
collective efforts to sustain critical fish stocks and thus the commercial fishing
industry,” Dr. Rothschild said. “We believe we have found a way to count the fish
being caught in a relatively low-cost manner that will increase confidence among the
federal regulators and the fishing industry.”

The system proposed by Rothschild and Chamberlain would use multiple cameras mounted
in strategic locations on the fishing vessel to capture images of fish on deck. The
technique, known as stereo photogrammetry, has been used by meteorologists to
measure the size and speed of tornadoes, archaeologists to animate research sites,
and many other purposes. The hardware costs of the new system amount to about $500.

Using the stereo photogrammetry system proposed by Rothschild and Chamberlin will
allow for a much larger sample on which to base regulatory decisions. In addition,
besides just identifying the species of the fish being caught, this system will
allow for photogrammetrically measuring of fish length and weight, which is critical
to conservation efforts.

The system employs at least two cameras equipped to capture images of fish either on
the deck or passing through a net. The images can then be analyzed to make a
permanent record of each sampling tow or catch in the fishery and to determine the
species and size composition of each tow.

Rothschild and Chamberlain received U.S. Patent Number 9,367,930 covering this
technology. The University is currently exploring avenues to develop the invention
for use in the commercial fishing industry.