Determining how many fish are in the ocean and deciding how many can be caught each year is a controversial topic. Fishermen want to catch fish, but when it comes to fishing in the oceans it is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s job to decide how many fish are out there to be caught, and that can be a tricky business.
Historically, NOAA has used manned ships to do the work and that is expensive — about $25,000 per day. Due to weather, maintenance and repairs, ships also cannot always be out there, which can affect the data gathering. But recently, NOAA has been testing saildrones in the Pacific Ocean near San Francisco and off the Oregon coast to see if they can supplement the fish data gathered by their vessels. The drones can stay out for as much as a year, can enter shallower waters and are less expensive to operate. They have one disadvantage. Because they are at the mercy of the wind, currents and tides, they cannot sail in straight lines like the ships, but NOAA thinks that is a surmountable challenge.
If the saildrones prove themselves to be reliable and valuable — so far, they have been performing the job well at $2,500 per day — you may soon see them in waters near you.
You can read more about the saildrones in this article from the Chinook Observer.