Using new technology to improve trawling
By developing a new technology, the men behind ECO Trawl AS want to make trawling more eco-friendly and effective.
– I have a shrimp trawler called “Havlys” and got an idea about replacing the trawl doors to make the fishing more effective. We began to explore the possibilities, Øyvind Frøytland, one of the founders of ECO Trawl, explains.
Replacing trawl doors
ECO Trawl AS was launched in June 2016, by Mads Bjørnenak and Øyvind Frøytland. Both are engineers, currently working in Stimline, and have been working in the oil and gas industry in South Norway for a long time. ECO Trawl is based in Kristiansand, Norway and the idea is to automate trawling by harnessing marine and offshore technology.
– Today, trawling uses much fuel. It is also hard to control the trawl net, and it can cause damage on the seabed. We want to make trawling more effective and ecofriendly by placing powerful electric propeller units, called thrusters, where the trawl doors are today, General Manager Mads Bjørnenak remarks.
By moving the trawl net closer to the vessel than it is today, ECO Trawl also want to increase the precision of the fishing, which will be good from an environmental perspective.
Work at the weekends
There are now six people working with ECO Trawl. All of them have other jobs as well.
– This is something we do at weekends and in the evenings. A goal is to be able to start hiring people, Bjørnenak adds.
In addition to external investors, the project is supported by The Norwegian Seafood Research Fund (FHF), Innovation Norway and the Sørlandet Knowledge Foundation (SKF). ECO Trawl is also linked to NTNU through a student who is writing his Master’s thesis on the project and the new technology.
– There are many people who believe in this, Bjørnenak observes.
Bjørnenak tells us that the biggest challenge so far has been the fact that the concept is brand new.
– No one has ever seen this before. For the user, it is a big step to start using a thruster. And also the technology is challenging. For example, we have to make sure it will be able to sustain being under water for a long time.
The team behind ECO Trawl has been undertaking theoretical analysis, and the next step is to start testing the concept.
– We need to test the thruster in a tank, and then start building a prototype to test on a trawler. We don’t know when all of this will be ready, but it may take some time. It’s a few years ahead, he explains.
The tank test will take place in Hirtshals, Denmark in the autumn 2018, and the owners of the trawler “Sille Marie” are willing to test the prototype when the time comes.
Searching for partners
Right from the start of ECO Trawl in 2016, Tom Fedog and Erik Zachariasen have been investors. According to Bjørnenak, external investors have been extremely important for the project.
– They have been essential. It costs to run these types of analysis.
ECO Trawl is always looking for partners, who can contribute both economically and practically.
– We need customers who are interested in our concept and who want to work with us, as well as technology partners, Bjørnenak states.