Norway has enforced a ban on scallop harvesting in the Barents Sea since 1993. However, a Norwegian fishing company, Ava Ocean, has recently developed a pioneering technology that may pave the way for the reopening of the scallop fishery in this region. Their innovation is a selective "shellfish picker" designed to collect scallops from the seabed without causing harm to the marine ecosystem or capturing unwanted species or smaller shellfish.
This cutting-edge technology, known for its precision harvesting, operates just above the seabed. It creates a gentle water flow that lifts scallops into a suspended basket, allowing the company to pinpoint areas with scallops while minimizing environmental impact. Real-time seabed monitoring during harvesting, along with sensors in the basket, prevents pump entanglement with obstacles and adjusts pump pressure to avoid collecting undersized scallops or bycatch.
Ava Ocean's technology has been proven to have minimal impact on smaller scallops during testing, earning the company the first new license to harvest Arctic scallops. Following this success, they acquired the Arctic Pearl vessel and invested between $15 to $20 million in retrofitting it with the necessary scallop harvesting equipment.
While the initial investment was substantial due to the remote location of the scallop fishery, Ava Ocean believes that the technology is adaptable and scalable. They are considering retrofitting traditional scallop vessels or constructing new, cost-effective vessels in the future.
Their ultimate vision is to see this innovative harvesting solution applied in scallop fisheries worldwide, working collaboratively with local governments and scientific communities to ensure sustainable and efficient practices. Ava Ocean's technology has been recognized as a finalist for the Responsible Seafood Innovation Award, and they continue to gather experience and fine-tune their approach during the startup phase of this groundbreaking venture. The award winner will be determined by an audience poll at the Responsible Seafood Summit in October 2023.
Source: Lauren Kramer (September 11, 2023). Norway banned scallop harvesting in the Barents Sea. Responsible Seafood Innovation Award finalist Ava Ocean delivered a tech solution. Global Seafood Alliance. https://shorturl.at/ltwAT
Photo by Marius Fiskum, courtesy of Ava Ocean.