Custodian – A Tracking System for More Sustainable Fishing

Custodian aims to collaborate with the regional, national and international stakeholders to develop a tracking system suitable for smaller vessels and fishing gear buoys. This initiative represents a shift from traditional visibility-based safety to continuous digital monitoring, offering numerous potential services based on the collected data, benefiting both the fishing industry and marine ecosystems.


In Portugal, from the 7.768 fishing vessels registered in 2019, only 10% have a total length over 12 meters, representing 13% of the national gross tonnage (1). Therefore, 90% of the vessels representing 87% of the fleet tonnage are not tracked at all. Hence, there is a need for a tracking system to be used in smaller vessels, since existing systems are not technically compatible with these. Additionally, fishing gear lost at sea is a major and global cause of concern. Firstly, as it is mainly made of plastic materials, it contributes to both micro and macro-plastic pollution (2,3). Secondly, the gear continues fishing, even while lost, causing futile ecosystem depletion (2), which has been known for over twenty years (4). Thirdly, as currents drag the lost gear back and forth along the seabed, it can destroy ecosystems. Fourthly, it constitutes a hazard for navigation (3). Fifthly, it has adverse economic consequences for marine tourism (2,3). Six, strayed gear represents an asset loss for fishermen. A tracking system that is usable by small open vessels (total length < 12m) and can also be installed in fishing gear buoys is needed. The project will develop such a system (Custodian), with the active participation of several stakeholders. Custodian can be seen as a digitalization of the existing requirements, entailing a paradigm shift from simply local safety awareness based on visibility to the naked eye, to continuously recorded digital logs, which can be displayed anywhere. The change provides an exponential augmentation of the utility of marking buoys, and vessels, as illustrated by the several services which can potentially be offered based on such data.

Operation Code: PT-INNOVATION-01000
Title: Custodian
Start-End: September 2022 – February 2024
For more information please access this link.

This project is financed by: