Resqunit delivers a fishing gear retrieval system that saves fishers money and protects the marine environment from ghost fishing and plastic pollution. “Resqunit not only protects our bottom line by saving gear and stock, it also protects our oceans – the very source that provides for us,” says Captain Sig Hansen of the fishing vessel F/V Northwestern.
Each year, a staggering 1 million metric tons of fishing gear is lost at sea. Known as “ghost gear”, lost equipment creates toxic plastic pollution and kills untold numbers of fish and shellfish through ghost fishing. Marine mammals, seabirds and sea turtles that get entangled in ghost gear are subjected to a slow, painful death, and marine habitats such as coral reefs and mangroves suffer irreparable harm.
“Lost traps, pots and nets are perpetual killing machines,” says Helge Trettø Olsen, CEO of Resqunit. “They sit there for hundreds of years, decreasing the food supply and reducing the income of fishers.”
The Resqunit solution is based on a flotation buoy that is mounted on fishing gear such as lobster traps and crab pots. If a trap remains in the water for a long time, the buoy is released and floats to the surface so the gear can be hauled from the ocean.
“The concept is deceptively simple. It’s easy for the average person to understand, but working under water is actually extremely difficult,” says Olsen. In 2021, an electronic time release function will be added for more precise retrieval.
Resqunit is helping to dramatically reduce the negative impacts of fishing on the marine environment. It is estimated that within five years, the solution will have reduced ghost fishing by 30 000 metric tons and plastic pollution by 11 000 metric tons.
To bring its solution to the next level, Resqunit has added sensors and software for collecting ocean data. The first prototype of a catch forecast system is in the ocean right now. Sensors are tracking temperature, salinity, oxygen, and lobster and crab movements. This will give fishers the knowledge they need to optimise operations, as well as provide important data to industry, research institutions and governments.
Fisheries are under pressure to minimise the environmental impact of their industry. Concerned about ghost fishing and plastic pollution, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is drawing up best practices to prevent lost fishing gear. In addition, eco-conscious consumers and shareholders are demanding that companies take action to reduce their environmental footprint.
Resqunit is a company under rapid development. Currently sold in Norway, the solution will be launched in Australia and Canada in autumn 2021, and pilot testing is underway in Florida and Jamaica.
In addition, Resqunit is in the process of acquiring Global Ocean Data, which will allow it to expand ocean data collection for climate research and commercial use. The company is planning an IPO in May 2021.
“We have the potential to become the Google of the ocean. Collecting data from the ocean has not been done before on a mass scale. We will get a completely new data set that nobody else has,” CEO Olsen asserts.
“We haven’t found any competitors yet, but we welcome them. More competition means more innovation,” he adds.