“Pisces can reduce bycatch by up to 90%… we are really hopeful that it will be a gamechanger for the industry”

Naomi, our Mechanical Engineer from the product team, talks about how Pisces, SafetyNet Technologies’ new product, can work on a practical level to help fishing crews increase their income, comply with legislation and preserve fish stocks for future generations.

Naomi outside SafetyNet Technologies HQ

Hi Naomi, can you tell us about your role at SNTech?

I am a Mechanical Engineer here at SafetyNet Technologies; I’ve recently joined the product team. There are four of us, and broadly my role involves the design, development, prototyping and manufacturing of our products, the first one being Pisces, the underwater light.

What does your role involve day to day?

My priority at the moment is testing. I’ve been pressure-testing our lights in-house as well as externally at testing centres to make sure that we don’t have any manufacturing defects or issues. The Pisces lights are designed to be used by fishing crews out at sea, and at considerable depth, so we want to make sure that they work properly at a variety of levels. If a fault is detected, these sorts of tests enable us to diagnose them and inform our manufacturers, so that they can change the parameters in their manufacturing process and rectify any issues.

Why is the testing process so important for a product like Pisces? 

Our product will be going deep into the water, as it’s designed to be used on commercial fishing vessels at sea. So, not only do we need it to be water-tight to protect the electronics inside the unit, we also face potential challenges such as corrosion from the salt water, extremes of temperature, and also the extreme pressure that you get at depth – this is what I’ve mostly been investigating. We’re looking at the sealing mechanisms, and the structural design of the unit. Whilst we can do as much design as possible to anticipate challenges that the marine environment will present, there’s nothing better than getting out there, getting in underwater, and putting it through its paces!

Testing Pisces

Can you tell me what the benefits of using Pisces are for someone working in the commercial fishing industry?

A real challenge that fishers are facing is that 1 in 5 fish that are caught are the “wrong” fish: in other words, they are not the target capture species. This is bad from a marine conservation point of view – many of the fishers we’ve spoken to want the fish stocks to survive for generations to come so that they can ensure a sustainable income for their families, but also there’s the economic question. 20% of their haul can be the wrong fish, so there are certain legislations whereby they can’t throw back bycatch, as it pollutes the water for other marine life. If fishers do land fish that isn’t permitted, they can actually be fined, so there hasn’t been a good solution for this challenge up to now. Basically, Pisces uses LED lights to attract or repel different species of fish and marine life and can reduce bycatch by up to 90%, so we are really hopeful that Pisces will be a gamechanger for the industry!

So, how would a fishing crew use a Pisces device on their vessels?

The main benefit of Pisces is that it’s really easy to use, it slots into the regular fishing routine. You just attach the lights onto your fishing gear, say your net, for example. Once you know what colour light you want to use and the flash rate needed to capture your target species or deter any bycatch species – we help to set this up – crews can programme the light really easily via a remote.  Pisces will light up as soon as it comes into contact with water. You can then crack on with your ordinary fishing routine as usual. After a number of hauls, you will want to charge the lights via your wireless charger, which is great because you won’t be having to deal with any wet connectors out at sea. Otherwise, the lights can be easily swapped for a second set whilst the first set is charging. The units are completely sealed, so they are very practical and can withstand seawater and harsh conditions. We have tried to make the whole experience of using Pisces as simple and straightforward as possible.

Can you tell me your favourite thing about working at SNTech?

Naomi in the SafetyNet workshop

I love the variety of what I do. As we are a small team, we can dip in and out of different engineering challenges. We can even wear “non-engineering hats” and work with the business team. I feel very close to making a real impact for fishers with the product and the journey that we’re on in the company. We’re close to the people who are really using our products, and that informs how we develop the product. It feels like we’re having a direct, positive impact on the work of fishers, which is great.

If you work in the fishing industry and are interested in finding out more about how our Pisces product can support your business, contact our customer success team: enquiries@sntech.co.uk