Tayport company to feature in documentary after inventing ‘bomb listener’ technology

A Scottish technology company, who have developed pioneering technology to help flush out fish bombers who damage endangered coral reefs in Malaysia, are set to feature in a documentary programme

St Andrews Instrumentation designed and built a specially commissioned ‘bomb listener’ at the request of one of the UK’s leading conservation bodies, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), to help put a stop to the decades-old practice taking place in marine parks across South-east Asia.

The company was first approached around two years ago by MCS, which was looking for technology to help stop the fishermen who were causing the damage. SA Instrumentation went on to design a bespoke product using three of its Decimus systems working together to collate the bomb noise in almost real time. A compass was also built into the equipment, allowing enforcement rangers at the marine park to identify the location of the bomb.

The collaborative project, which also involves the Government of Hong Kong, aims to deter local fishermen in the Sabah region of Malaysia from detonating bombs which not only kill large numbers of fish, but also damage the already endangered coral reefs. After hearing about the technology and the project, independent film maker HonYuen Leong last year successfully entered a Malaysia-wide competition, sponsored by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, in a bid to win a grant to develop a documentary.

However, while the Decimus system will be a key feature of her programme, she is currently in the process of trying to raise additional funds through crowdfunding to come to Scotland to film the SA Instrumentation team.

Operations Manager Richard Baggaley said: “This has been a very challenging project for a number of reasons, the main one being that we were asked to design a product which could listen for bombs from multiple locations and determine the approximate GPS location of the explosion, something that is not very far away from the normal Decimus systems’ marine mammal criteria, but challenging none the less.”

Dr Elizabeth Wood, MCS Coral Reef Officer, said: “Fish bombing is not new to Sabah or the rest of South-east Asia, including the Philippines, Indonesia and Hong Kong. Traditional fishing methods using a fishing line and a lure result in perhaps only a handful of fish; fish bombing on the other hand involves throwing handmade explosives into the coral reefs, resulting in a much bigger catch in a fraction of the time.

“The marine park authorities have no idea where or when it is going to take place, and the area is often so big that it’s impossible to catch those doing it.  By using ground-breaking technology produced by SA Instrumentation, the authorities will receive the exact co-ordinates of the fish bomb blast in almost real time, giving them the opportunity to arrest those responsible while they are collecting the fish. The overall aim of the plan is to deter more fishermen from using these harmful bombs.”

Anyone who is interested in supporting HonYuen and the film crew to come to Scotland can do so by visiting http://www.pozible.com/project/201096

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