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The Internet of Fishing Fleets

When we think about the Internet of Things (IoT), for most of us, the first thought is probably a Nest thermostat or some other connected appliance or home device, or a fitness application like FitBit. These are the applications that get the most buzz, and are the apps that are apt to make up the bulk of the kabillion things that are expected to be connected soon. Okay, kabilllion may not be quite right. But Gartner is forecasting over 6 billion connected things will be in use this year, with more than 5 million new ones connected every day. Those numbers are coming from consumer, not industrial and commercial applications.

But many of the most challenging, interesting and very worthwhile uses for IoT aren’t going to be in our houses or on our wrists.

Some of these were mentioned in a brief article I saw in a recent Fortune.

The article talks about how some cities are using IoT to save money and deliver services more efficiently. New Bedford, Massachusetts, for example, uses on-truck sensors to detect whether roads are warm enough to melt snow or whether they need to send out the plows. But New Bedford doesn’t just have a lot of roads to get plowed in the winter; it’s also home to one of the country’s largest fishing fleets. And Inex Advisors, an investment firm that’s located in the city, sponsors IoT research, some of which is fishing-fleet related.

Working with “local fleet owners and operators,”

“Inex’s IoT Lab, with backing from Analog Devices is looking to put instruments on vessels to ease and track fish counts, a key concern in this heavily regulated industry. “What gets caught where and by whom matters a lot and can make a trip either profitable or unprofitable,” [New Bedford Mayor Jonathan] Mitchell said.” (Source: Fortune)

Sophisticated technology has been deployed for maritime uses for a long time now. But all the technology is running up against the fact that many fisheries have been fully depleted, or are in danger of becoming so. Because of this, there are new government mandates that are going into effect later this spring that will require that “vessels catching certain fish must carry a human monitor to watch the quantities and species of fish caught.” Having to pay for an onboard fish watcher would be quite costly.

“A possible solution is to use cheap, fast sensors aboard the boat to document the catch. Inex is currently working with the commercial fleet operators to help them comply with the catch share regulations and also to monitor “bycatch,” translating to the unwanted fish or other wildlife caught in fishing operations.”

Sound like an application that will be able to help fishermen operate more efficiently, while also helping save fishing grounds and certain species from being destroyed. They probably won’t be deploying 5 million of them a day, but, when it comes to growing the IoT, every little bit helps.