New tech focus of conference

The seafood industry is in Nelson for its conference this week.

The conference, which was cancelled last year in Nelson because of Covid-19, will see close to 300 delegates in the city for up to three days.

The conference, which is being held at the Rutherford Hotel, runs Thursday and Friday, with many delegates choosing to stay on in the top of the South during the weekend.

Chief executive of Seafood New Zealand, Dr Jeremy Helson, says it is a real pleasure to be back in what is New Zealand’s home of fishing for the conference.

“Nelson values the economic contribution the seafood industry makes to the city and recognises that there are entire satellite industries in Nelson to support the business of fishing.

“There is a big focus on innovation this year and that is reflected in the conference theme, which is Sea into the Future.”

Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese will open the conference and Minister of Oceans and Fisheries, Hon David Parker, will address the delegates on the first day.

Nelson fisherman and businessman Dom Talijancich and fellow Nelson businessman, Toby Bailey will be presenting cutting edge Artificial Intelligence (AI) trawl technology that can identify what species of fish enter the net.

Dom’s love for technology has seen him install every bell and whistle on his vessel Mako and when he couldn’t find the technology he needed to precision target fish species, he formed a company and invented it.

Together with Toby they formed a company, Advanced Conservation Solutions (ACS), and developed a prototype camera and AI system that will do just that.

With help from Callaghan Innovation – the business partners now have a prototype system that is delivering exciting results.

Sir Ian Taylor, the founder of the globally successful company, Animation Research Ltd (ARL) is a keynote speaker and will also talk about the possibilities for camera technology in the commercial fishing industry.

ARL is a world-leading visual animation company that has had extensive experience in tracking boats around the world and retrieving data, both real time and recorded from those boats.

Sir Ian says the current $68 million earmarked for onboard cameras by the Ministry for Primary Industries needs to ensure it future proofs a system that serves both the government’s and the industry’s needs into the future.

Sir Ian’s views echo that of seafood industry leaders.

Sir Ian says that technology like that developed by ACS would be great for the fishers and the environment, enabling them to better target their catch and reduce waste.

Jeremy Helson says the industry is hugely optimistic about the benefits that technology can provide. Like any new technology, it needs to be part of a future-focussed strategy with careful thought given to both the efficacy and cost.

In recent years, a huge investment has been made into new trawl technology called Precision Seafood Harvesting and an update on that is also expected at the conference in Nelson.

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