15 Ways Technology Can Help Sustainable Fishing

Sustainable fishing is a topic that’s been in the news for a long time. It’s an issue that needs to be addressed, and it’s something we talk about often here at Oceanic Society. 

As an ocean conservation non-profit dedicated to marine ecosystems, marine life and ocean research, sustainability is a core focus for us. In fact, it’s one of our founding principles:

Our mission is to create and share knowledge that advances sustainable fisheries management practices through education and partnerships. 

We promote sustainable seafood choices while encouraging people to become active stewards of their local oceans.

The high-tech future of sustainable fisheries – YouTube
Technology plays a significant role in promoting sustainable fishing practices.
Various technological advancements are being utilized to enhance the efficiency and sustainability of fishing activities.
Technology can help in monitoring and managing fish populations, reducing bycatch, and minimizing environmental impact.
The use of innovative tools and techniques, such as satellite tracking systems and underwater drones, improves data collection and analysis.
Sustainable fishing practices supported by technology can contribute to the long-term preservation of marine ecosystems and biodiversity.
Collaboration between technology developers, policymakers, and fishing communities is essential for successful implementation of sustainable fishing technologies.

1. Visual Identification of Fish

Visual identification of fish is an important part of sustainable fishing. It allows fishers to make sure they’re catching the right species, and it helps them avoid situations where they might be accidentally catching endangered species or using harmful bycatch techniques.

However, visual identification isn’t always accurate: sometimes fish are misidentified or have been damaged or modified in such a way that their identity can’t be determined by sight alone. 

Technology can help to solve some of these problems with more accurate ways of identifying fish visually and from afar and thus making it easier for fishers to make sustainable choices about what they catch.

When considering sustainable fishing practices, it’s essential to understand the impact of fishing nets on the environment. Our article on the environmental impact of fishing nets explains the challenges associated with their usage and offers insights into eco-friendly alternatives.

2. Real-time Data Collection

Using drones to collect data on the high seas is an exciting, new idea. However, collecting data in real-time and using it as evidence to enforce sustainable fishing practices is a lot more difficult than it sounds. 

The main reason is that satellite communications are expensive and they can be unreliable, too. Sometimes they’re delayed by hours or even days after an event has happened.

In order to make this work, organizations need access to high-resolution images and videos of fishing activity happening right now on the sea. 

They also need drones that have proven themselves reliable for long periods of time at great distances from land and that aren’t too expensive for organizations like Greenpeace or Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS).

Improved decision-makingReal-time data collection allows for timely and accurate information, enabling informed decision-making in various industries.
Enhanced operational efficiencyBy collecting and analyzing data in real time, businesses can optimize their operations, identify inefficiencies, and make necessary adjustments promptly.
Proactive problem-solvingReal-time data collection enables the identification of issues or anomalies as they occur, allowing for immediate action and problem-solving.
Better customer experienceWith real-time data, businesses can provide personalized and responsive services, leading to improved customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Streamlined monitoring and controlReal-time data collection facilitates continuous monitoring and control of processes, enabling timely interventions and ensuring quality and safety standards are met.
Data-driven insightsReal-time data collection empowers organizations to gain valuable insights, identify trends, and make data-driven decisions to stay competitive in the market.
Improved resource allocationBy having real-time visibility into resource utilization, businesses can optimize their resource allocation, reduce waste, and maximize efficiency.
Enhanced predictive analyticsReal-time data collection allows for the integration of predictive analytics, enabling organizations to anticipate future trends and make proactive strategies.

3. Combining GPS and Radar in Fishing Vessels

GPS and radar can be combined to help with navigation. GPS can help you navigate in the open ocean, while radar can help you navigate near land.  

For example, if you have a boat that is equipped with both GPS and radar technology and your vessel is sailing out at sea (away from shore), then the GPS system may indicate how far away your boat is from an island or another object like a reef.

If your vessel were closer to land, however in other words within the “danger zone” of rocky shores radar would be more useful than traditional methods such as visual perception or dead reckoning (estimating where you are based on speed). 

Radar tells you exactly how far away an obstacle is from your ship; it will also provide information about its size so that you’ll know what kind of obstacle it might pose: Is it a large rock? A small reef? 

You can use this data when plotting course corrections en route during stormy weather conditions or when avoiding collisions with other vessels near busy shipping lanes outside harbors and ports where traffic congestion makes maneuvering difficult

Technology plays a significant role in modern fishing, but how accurate are fishing apps? Discover the reliability of these apps and how they can enhance your fishing experience in our article on the accuracy of fishing apps. Stay informed and make the most of technology in your fishing endeavors!

4. More Accurate Catch Information

As we discussed in an earlier post, there is often a disconnect between the catch reports that are submitted and the actual amount of fish caught. 

This can be due to inaccurate reporting or simply because certain types of fishing technology were not used at all. 

For example, if you’re using a net with a small mesh size, it’s more likely that you’ll nab a lot more undersized fish than usual. In this case, your catch report will understate what was actually taken from the ocean because you didn’t have any way of tracking them.

GPS and radar can help solve this problem by giving fishermen immediate access to information about their location (and therefore what they’re catching). 

If they use trackers to monitor their movements in real time over long distances or across wide swaths of water like those used for commercial fishing vessels they’ll know exactly when and where their nets were set up at any given moment throughout their trip; making it easier for them both before landing as well as after getting back home from sea.”

5. Better Fishing Vessels

Fishing vessels are often overfished, old and inefficient. The technology used on fishing vessels needs to be more sustainable.

Some of the ways that fishing vessels can be improved are:

Using electric engines instead of diesel ones so they can be powered by renewable energy sources such as solar or wind power. This will help reduce carbon emissions, which is good for the environment.

Making sure that boats use smart watch GPS systems so they have accurate coordinates of where they are at all times, rather than keeping paper records like some boats do now which causes errors in recording locations which may lead to illegal fishing practices being carried out without knowing it!

6. Alternative Energy for Fishing Vessels

We all know that the fishing industry is a major contributor to climate change, but it’s a complicated problem to figure out how to fix. One way you can help your favorite fisherman reduce their carbon footprint? Get them on solar power.

Solar panels have been used on boats in many different ways over the years, including powering up everything from fish-finding sonar systems and lights on deck to GPS devices and even air conditioners, depending on how much sunlight they can generate. 

In some cases, they’ve even been able to run entire vessels though that often requires buying a lot of extra batteries and charging them consistently throughout long voyages at sea (which isn’t easy).

Looking for an innovative approach to fishing? Consider the benefits of inflatable kayaks for fishing. Our article on the suitability of inflatable kayaks for fishing delves into their advantages, portability, and how they contribute to sustainable fishing practices.

7. Dynamic Boat Routing Data

Our final set of tools for sustainable fishing focuses on data. Data from satellites and buoys, data from other ships, even data from fishing vessels themselves. 

Not only do we have access to the most advanced tech when it comes to gathering information about the oceans and how humans are interacting with them, but there’s also a lot of good ol’ fashioned elbow grease that goes into making sure this information is as accurate as possible including crowdsourcing techniques like crowdsourced tracking platforms like Global Fishing Watch (GFW) or OpenAIS.

If you’re interested in learning more about this world of marine observation technology and sustainability efforts, check out NOAA’s Marine Debris Program website or visit their YouTube channel!

Optimal navigationDynamic boat routing data enables vessels to find the most efficient and safe routes, considering factors such as weather conditions, water depth, and traffic.
Fuel efficiencyBy utilizing dynamic boat routing data, boats can optimize their routes to minimize fuel consumption and reduce carbon emissions.
Time savingsEfficient boat routing based on dynamic data helps vessels save time by avoiding congested areas, unfavorable weather, and other obstacles.
Enhanced safetyReal-time boat routing data allows for proactive navigation adjustments, ensuring vessels steer clear of hazardous areas and maintain a higher level of safety.
Improved decision-makingAccess to dynamic boat routing data enables captains and operators to make informed decisions regarding navigation, route planning, and resource allocation.
Reduced operational costsOptimized boat routing based on dynamic data can lead to cost savings by reducing fuel consumption, minimizing maintenance needs, and maximizing vessel utilization.
Increased productivityBy following efficient routes based on dynamic boat routing data, vessels can enhance their productivity by reaching their destinations faster and with fewer disruptions.
Environmental sustainabilityDynamic boat routing data helps boats navigate in an environmentally friendly manner, minimizing their impact on sensitive marine ecosystems and protected areas.

8. Ocean Temperature Sensors for Salmon Fisheries

Salmon are a crucial food source for the ecosystems they inhabit, so understanding the ocean temperature is essential to understanding the health of salmon fisheries. 

Ocean-temperature sensors could help us understand how climate change is affecting our oceans and if it influences ecosystem structure and function. 

These sensors can also be placed in rivers to monitor fish stocks, as well as other marine life like dolphins or whales that are known to migrate along these routes.

9. Satellite Ocean Monitoring Systems

Using a satellite ocean monitoring system, you can help fishing vessels track their location and make sure they stay within protected areas. 

You can also monitor the location of fish, marine life, and overfishing. This will help ensure that no one is overfishing or catching more fish than they should be.

10. Better Technologies for Sustainable Farming Aquaculture Fish Farms

Fish farming is an incredible way to increase fish supply, as it can be done on land near shore that would otherwise not be suitable for growing crops. 

However, the impact of these farms on the environment has been detrimental in the past. Today’s sustainable fish farms look to improve on these practices and utilize technology solutions such as:

  • Algae-based feed pellets, which are easier and cheaper than traditional fish meal based feeds
  • Control systems that monitor oxygen levels and CO2 levels in tanks
  • Monitoring systems that track environmental factors such as temperature, humidity and pH

Choosing the right fishing bait is crucial for successful angling and sustainable fishing. Dive into our comprehensive guide on the effectiveness and impact of fishing bait to make informed decisions, maximize your catch, and minimize the ecological footprint of your fishing activities.

11. Sonar Technology for Sustainable Fishing on Coral Reefs

Sonar technology can be used to monitor fish populations and fishing activities. Fish populations are monitored by attaching sonar transducers to buoys or nets, which record the number of fish caught at each location. 

This information can be used to determine the density of a particular species, or whether there are enough fish in the area for sustainable harvesting. 

Sonar also helps identify different species of marine life, and fishermen can avoid fishing in protected areas like coral reefs or whale sanctuaries (which often contain sensitive breeding grounds).

Sonar transducers may also help identify where fish aggregations occur by identifying large groups of schooling fish through their acoustic signatures the way they move through water makes them produce different sounds than other parts of the ocean do. 

These aggregations often occur during spawning periods when many smaller species gather together in schools near shorelines. 

By detecting these aggregations with sonar technology and avoiding them during those times, fishermen can minimize their impact on vulnerable species that need protection from overfishing

12. New Nets to Protect Dolphins and Marine Life from Tuna Fishing Gear

In January, the National Marine Fisheries Service proposed a new rule that would require all tuna fishing vessels to use gear that is dolphin-safe. 

The agency also asked for public comments on how to accomplish this goal. This move follows a similar one in 2014 by the Pacific Fishery Management Council, which voted unanimously to ban drift gillnets in California waters by 2022.

The efforts are aimed at reducing interactions between tuna fishermen and dolphins who swim alongside their boats or become entangled in their nets. 

However, there’s debate within the scientific community as to whether these regulations will actually help protect dolphins from such interactions and whether they’ll even be effective at limiting them at all.

Reduced bycatchNew nets designed specifically to protect dolphins and marine life help minimize accidental capture and mortality of these species.
Sustainable fishing practicesUsing specialized nets demonstrates a commitment to sustainable fishing by mitigating the impact on non-target species and preserving marine biodiversity.
Compliance with regulationsEmploying nets that comply with regulations and guidelines for protecting dolphins and marine life ensures adherence to conservation measures and fishery management practices.
Improved fishing efficiencyInnovative nets can optimize the fishing process by selectively targeting the desired species while minimizing interactions with non-target species.
Conservation of marine ecosystemsUtilizing new nets contributes to the preservation of marine ecosystems and the delicate balance of marine habitats, supporting overall ecosystem health.
Positive public perceptionEmploying nets that protect dolphins and marine life can enhance the reputation of fishing operations, fostering trust and support from environmentally conscious consumers.
Collaboration and knowledge sharingThe development and implementation of new nets require collaboration between industry stakeholders, researchers, and conservation organizations, fostering knowledge exchange and innovation.
Long-term viability of fisheriesProtecting dolphins and marine life through the use of specialized nets helps ensure the sustainability and long-term viability of fisheries for future generations.

13. Biodegradable Fishing Gear and Nets

Biodegradable fishing gear and nets are made of materials that will decompose in a short amount of time, but are still strong enough to be used. These include:

Polylactic acid (PLA) is a polymer made from renewable resources such as cornstarch and tapioca roots. PLA can be used to make anything from plastic bottles to fishing nets.

Nylon 6,6 is a type of nylon that is biodegradable when exposed to the sun’s UV rays for an extended period. It has been used in many products including fishing net floats, sinkers and lines.

Although these materials have been shown through scientific testing to decompose within 12-15 months, there is nothing stopping them from being discarded into landfills where they will take decades or centuries if not millennia before they break down completely into carbon dioxide (CO2).

Fishing is not just about catching fish; it’s about preserving the delicate balance of ecosystems. Learn about the conservation efforts and status of fishing cats in our article on the endangered fishing cat population. Discover how sustainable fishing practices can help protect these remarkable feline species.

14. Drones to Monitor Illegal Fishing Activity and Overfishing on the High Seas

Drones can monitor illegal fishing activity and overfishing on the high seas. By deploying drones to monitor the oceans, you’ll be able to see what’s happening in places that are otherwise hard to get to. 

For example, a drone could fly out over an area of ocean where there’s been recent poaching activity, search for boats that appear suspicious, take photos or video footage of them if they’re spotted and then send those images back to land so they can be analyzed by experts who will then determine whether any further action needs to be taken. 

This would also work for monitoring other types of illegal activity like overfishing or dumping waste into water supplies (like rivers).


When people think of sustainable fishing, they usually imagine a picture of a fisherman in a small boat on the ocean. 

But technology has also become an important part of maintaining healthy fish populations and providing consumers with fish products that are safe to eat. By using these tools and methods, we can help make sure our oceans stay healthy for generations to come!

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources to explore the topic of technology and sustainable fishing:

  1. 5 Ways Technology Can Help Sustainable Fishing: Discover five key ways in which technology is being utilized to promote sustainable fishing practices worldwide.
  2. Technology for Sustainable Fishing: Dive into this article to explore various technological advancements and innovations that are shaping the future of sustainable fishing.
  3. How Technology Can Improve Sustainable Aquaculture: Learn about the intersection of technology and sustainable aquaculture, and how innovative solutions are being used to enhance productivity while minimizing environmental impact.


Here are some frequently asked questions about technology and sustainable fishing:

How does technology contribute to sustainable fishing practices?

Technological advancements play a crucial role in sustainable fishing by enabling more precise tracking and monitoring of fishing activities, promoting responsible fishing practices, and reducing bycatch and environmental damage.

What are some examples of technology used in sustainable fishing?

Examples of technology used in sustainable fishing include satellite-based tracking systems, underwater drones, advanced fishing gear designs, and data analytics tools for informed decision-making.

Can technology help prevent overfishing?

Yes, technology can help prevent overfishing by providing real-time data on fish populations, implementing fishing quotas and restrictions, and promoting sustainable fishing practices through the use of tools such as fish aggregating devices (FADs).

How can technology improve fishing gear sustainability?

Technology can improve fishing gear sustainability by introducing innovative materials and designs that minimize environmental impact, reducing gear loss and ghost fishing, and promoting the use of biodegradable or eco-friendly gear components.

What are the benefits of using technology in aquaculture?

Using technology in aquaculture can increase production efficiency, optimize feed usage, monitor water quality parameters, and minimize disease outbreaks. It also enables precise control over environmental conditions, leading to more sustainable and responsible aquaculture practices.