Innovation That Matters

Korea's octopus resources have declined markedly in recent years | Photo source Diane Picchiottino on Unsplash

Korean government uses smart tech to monitor octopus fishing


The project leverages drones, artificial intelligence, and the internet of things to manage octopus resources and reduce illegal fishing

Spotted: Octopus is a beloved food delicacy in South Korea, with 36,899 tonnes of the mollusc consumed in 2020. But domestic octopus fishing in the country is on the decline thanks to marine pollution, loss of skills, and illegal fishing. Now, a government project—part of the country’s ‘Digital New Deal’—is using technology to turn the tide.

The ‘Smart Octopus Service’ targets Shinan-gun County in the province of Jeollanam-do. The service aims to eliminate illegal fishing operations – one of the major causes of the fall in octopus resources in the region. CCTV cameras have been installed to separate authorised and non-authorised fishing ships, and smart sensors have been fitted on over 50 registered vessels.

But the project is not limited to catching illegal fishermen. The service also provides smart and innovative natural resource management systems, making it easier for both authorities and fishing communities to monitor the mudflats and ocean waters where octopuses live.

Drones were used to capture images of mudflats across Korea, which were then fed into AI systems to extract data. In total, over 60,000 data points were made available to locate octopus trails. The data is accessible to fishermen through a web-based app interface called ‘Smart Shinan’. This app allows users to view the location of octopuses and identify environmental changes in the tidal flats.

The next step for the project is to expand the Smart Octopus Service to more locations across Korea. “The service became a success case of the Digital New Deal initiative as it has significantly improved productivity of natural resources overall,” the Korean Ministry of Science and ICT explained in a press release. “By replicating the service in other communities, we will continue to facilitate digital transformation in marginalised farming and fishing villages.”

Technology is increasingly being deployed to tackle issues impacting the ‘blue economy’. At Springwise, we have recently spotted airborne lasers that map seagrass meadows, and AI-powered smart fishing nets that reduce the impact on marine life.

Written By: Katrina Lane



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