Drone fishing tuna from the Beach. Image: Sea Ulcer Aerial Media.
Drone fishing tuna from the Beach. Image: Sea Ulcer Aerial Media.


As someone who often does way too much and who has his hands in way too many pies at any one time, I am used to doing one project today and then a totally separate endeavor the next.  But with an increasingly disturbing regularity, my “separate” worlds appear to be merging.  Case in point was my painting delivery service/water quality research/family friends confab this weekend.


Drone Fishing

Another case in point is the growing use of drones for all manner of things related to coastal and marine management.  We are doing lots of this ourselves (e.g. helping folks with limited resources better inventory their coastal resources or working to help measure and bolster the much-in-need-of-improvement sustainability of our seafood harvest), but the amount of innovative ideas never ceases to amaze me:

While there is much too much hype in the drone industry from the perspective of current valuation (see Colin Snow’s talk from last weeks sUAS Business Meeting in San Francisco), the creation and innovation side of things is going gangbusters.  Indeed, while we here at CSU Channel Islands are a player in this space, aerial and aquatic robotic technology is evolving faster than my students, colleagues, or I can seem to keep track of.  Two weeks ago, I was having a conversation with a colleague from another university about the possible use of robots and fishing efforts in the open ocean.  I was envisioning something akin to one of our underwater ROVs equipped with a spear or perhaps netting and thinking of the growing ranks of “water proofed” robotic platforms (e.g. the Amphibia).  Indeed, early adopter commercial operators are already using robotics to manage their operations in southern California waters.

Then, I woke this morning to find FStop (via Cliff over at UAVExpertNews) pointing me to a merging of our marine conservation and robotic tinkering: the apparently first-ever use of a drone to target and capture Thunnids via directed dropping of lures/hooks via their a DJI Phantom while beach fishing with rod and reel.

This raises a whole host of intriguing questions: is this considered “regular” recreational fishing under local fishing laws and ordinances?  Is this really just a new form of the novelty kite fishing (I doubt it…)?  Will flying or swimming drones be the next in a long line of technological innovations from diesel-power winches to Radar to satellite data feeds that have empowered us to further overexploit our already stressed global fish stocks?

Will this tech be eclipsed by the technology that seems poised to soon allow the angler to simply fly over the fish she is looking to target:

Many of us are determined to help make this tech supportive of conservation and responsible management, but the reality is that we really are gazing into a brave new world through a mirror, darkly.

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