Resource extraction and harvesting technologies are one of the patentECO Indexes, and they can include cleantech. These technologies provide the raw materials needed to support societies and they provide a fundamental basis for the economic engine fueled by a free-market economy. In this post we explore inventions in commercial fish trawling.
The patent cognoscenti often use the word "teach", to explain what an inventor's invention is. Our definition of "teach" is:
An inventor is granted an exclusive right to their invention in exchange for teaching others skilled in the art how to make their invention by way of the information in the patent. With respect to prior art, teach is defined as informing and instructing by way of the documents making up the prior art. The prior art references teach the technology disclosed in them or revealed by them.(For more patent-speak, see the Way Better Patents Glossary.)
Release the Young Fishes!
We turn from resource extraction below ground to resource harvesting from the seas.
Ireland, not commonly thought of as a commercial fishing nation, nonetheless derives a significant fisheries harvest from its surrounding seas and oceans. These activities are described in the 2009 “Atlas of the Commercial Fisheries Around Ireland”, published by the Marine Institute. The top five most economically valuable fisheries species landed by Irish vessels in 2008 were: mackeral, Nephrops (aka Norway lobster or Dublin Bay prawn, a slim, orange-pink lobster), horse mackeral, monkfish, and edible crab, totalling €101 billion (approximately equivalent to $76.3 billion in 2012 dollars).
Irish inventor Danny Gallagher and three co-inventors have developed a new “Netting arrangement” for pelagic (i.e., water column) and bottom commercial trawling, memorialized in US 8,191,305. The patent was granted on June 5, 2012, and is currently considered by the USPTO to be a trawl fishing net. We’ll see in January 2013 how that consideration changes with the introduction of the upcoming Cooperative Patent Classification System (CPC), based on the European Classification Office’s (EPO) ECLA system.
The '305 patent’s first claim is:
A trawl netting arrangement including a main netting component and at least one grid portion formed from a plurality of loops, each loop having four sides, two sides of each loop being formed from longitudinally arranged substantially parallel rigid members and the other two sides being flexible, the flexible sides interconnecting the substantially rigid sides from one another such that each loop of the grid is collapsible, a collapse of the loop effecting a bringing together of the substantially rigid sides.
What makes this invention cleantech?
We’ll let the inventor tell it, in keeping with the "teaching" of technological innovations in patents as described earlier in this post.
Gallagher, et al.:
The invention relates to fishing and in particular to trawling. The invention more particularly relates to netting arrangements for use in trawling such as pelagic or bottom trawling and used for selective discrimination in the catch so as to provide for improved selectivity in the size of the captured species. In one embodiment this may be used to reduce the possibility of capture of juvenile species, while in another it may be used to selectively disregard larger fish.
Pelagic trawling is the use of a cone-shaped net behind a boat to catch large schools of fish. It differs from benthic trawling–sometimes referred to as bottom trawling–in that as opposed to towing trawl nets along the sea floor, pelagic trawling provides for a towing higher up in the water column. In both trawling techniques, a flow of water passes through the net as the net is towed behind the fishing vessel.
A fishing trawl may be considered as having two main portions: the trawl-net portion which is the extended area of netting that serves to capture a large volume and which tapers inwardly towards a collecting bag or cod-end, where the captured fish are retained until the trawl is recovered on board the fishing vessel where they are then released and processed. The body of the trawl-net is funnel-like, wide at its mouth and narrowing towards the cod-end. It is long enough to assure adequate flow of water and prevent fish from escaping the net after subsequent capture. It is made of different grades of netting, the size of the mesh of the netting decreasing from the front of the net towards the cod-end. The cod end is where fish are finally caught. The size of mesh in the cod end is a determinant of the size of fish which the net catches.
Such grading of species is important in modern fish management where there are strict controls on the volumes of fish caught and also on the minimum size of the catch. The use of larger mesh sizes in the collecting bag (cod end) was among the first technical measures imposed by fisheries managers to prevent the capture of juveniles. Such arrangements require the fish to reach the side netting to achieve their escape.
While the above described arrangements provide for a certain degree in selection in the size of the captured fish, there is a further need to provide a netting arrangement that provides for discriminative capture of the fish size. It is believed that whilst all of the above described arrangements improve the prospect of escape by juvenile species, there is still a need for an improved netting arrangement.
By incorporating improved size selection into the trawl net, the inventors do their part to harvest a renewable resource (fish), yet help protect the juvenile fishes by allowing them to escape. Greentech indeed.