Leading Journal of the Irish & UK Fishing Industries

Bruce Langlands, skipper of the FV Shuna is a creel fisherman in the Isle of Skye. Mostly, he fishes for Nephrops. However, like many fishermen, he is curious to know what goes on in his creels once they slip below the waves. For the past year, he has been deploying CatchCam, an underwater video camera, on his creels. By simply recording his fishing gear in action, he’s been able to significantly improve the efficiency of his fishing efforts.

With CatchCam, Bruce has been recording his creels for over 40 hours straight giving him insight into what times of day his creels catch the most. He wanted to learn how his creels perform at different times of day, during different tidal conditions and with various types of bait. Also, he has been investigating the effects of LED lights on his creels. The video he’s collected has helped him better understand the behaviour of different target and non-target species.

Talking with Bruce, he said “I tested a variety of creels including lobster, brown Crab, velvet & green Crab, wrasse pots as well as shrimp and prawn creels. All the species reacted differently to tidal conditions and artificial light conditions which proved really interesting and, as a result, prompted alterations to creel design set up to increase fishing efficiency.”

CatchCam was used to film the inside of the creel and was also attached to the rig to give an overview of the creel from above. This made it possible to witness the activity around the seabed. From this footage Bruce has learnt that the Nephrops are feeding mostly during daylight in certain areas and conversely, at night in other areas of the seabed. At night, the creel gear fished better for the first hour of deployment however they soon became ineffective after that under certain conditions. Even more interesting, the video also showed Nephrops attempting to get into the creels in strong tides but simply being swept away by the current. Furthermore, he saw that certain baits lost their effectiveness after 36 hours.

By being able to directly see how his creel gear performs, Bruce has been able to make alterations to his fishing methods and gear. Consequently, he is more targeted on where and when the static gear is deployed which is great for efficiency. Finally, being able to haul a fleet, recover the camera, and have an almost real-time video of what has been going on down on the seabed has been a real game changer for Bruce. Not only has the video evidence helped to confirm some methodologies and practices, but it has supported the innovation of catching methods.

Asking Bruce for his thoughts on CatchCam and underwater video, he said, “CatchCam proved to be a very useful tool for getting a far better understanding of fish and shellfish activity around the gear and helps contribute to fishing innovation.”

In addition to Bruce, creel fishermen in Ireland have also found underwater video cameras valuable. On trials in Ireland, one Skipper observed his creels landing on their sides and restricted access to the creel. After seeing, the skipper is keen to find ways to remedy this issue.

CatchCam is by SafetyNet Technologies who are exhibiting at the Scottish Skipper Expo 2023. Visit stand 111 to get a demo of the underwater camera and learn more about how it can help you fish more precisely.