Rights: © Copyright 2014. University of Waikato. All rights reserved. Published 9 June 2014 Download

A New Zealand collaboration has developed an advanced sonar technology that is making waves in commercial fishing worldwide. Callaghan Innovation and Electronic Navigation Ltd (ENL) partnered to strengthen the research and development efforts of ENL, and the result was the Wide Angle Sonar Seafloor Profiler (WASSP). In this video clip, Jonathan Miller (Callaghan Innovation) and Gareth Hodson (Chief Executive, ENL) explain how WASSP works, why it has been so commercially successful and why the Callaghan Innovation-ENL collaboration works so well for both partners.

Key question
Why is sonar scanning important in commercial fishing?

Teaching point
Students can learn more about the technology behind WASSP by visiting the website.


Jonathan Miller
Callaghan Innovation and ENL have collaborated together to develop an advanced sonar technology called WASSP, which is used by commercial fishing vessels and other marine users.

Gareth Hodson
In the early 90s, we were dominant in all the markets we were in, so to grow the business, we started up research and development, and in the last 23 years, we’ve invested as a family heavily in R&D. Joining with Callaghan really helped us leverage our ability to commercialise a world-class product, which is now number one in the world.

Jonathan Miller
The technology enables a wider SWAF beam – so a SWAF beam is sort of the vision that you can get when you’re looking on the seafloor – so a wider SWAF beam means you don’t have to go backwards and forwards so much, and along with that you get better resolution, which means if you’re a commercial fishing operator, for example, you can be much more targeted and much more efficient about how you’re fishing.

Gareth Hodson
As the commercial operator in this partnership, we look at Callaghan and look at their skills, and where they can actually help our R&D, and they have some amazing skills in science around transducer development and signal processing.

Jonathan Miller
It’s an exciting collaboration. It’s got some really interesting ingredients in kind of the whole story, because you’ve got some real grunty kind of scientists, real scientists with deep thinking, and then on the other side from ENL, you’ve got these really experienced engineers, so you’ve got both the development side and the research side, and then when you put in the mix ENL’s really in-depth understanding of the market, marine sonar market, I think you’ve got a recipe which is leading to some really exciting collaborations.

If you look at ENL, they’re a rising star in the New Zealand tech sector. They’re a family-owned business who have turned from sort of importer to exporter through this sort of strategic R&D, and they’re set to take on the world, and they already are taking on the world. They’re exporting these WASSP products to I understand around 80 countries.

Gareth Hodson
So in terms of what this can do, how this can impact New Zealand, I think it’s going to create more employment, and we’re moving in to becoming a true global player. We’re just getting there.

Video courtesy of Kiwi Innovation Network Limited
© Kiwi Innovation Network Limited, 2013