JW Fishers’ Sealion-2 ROV Offers Eco-Friendly Business Solution

“If you want to hear the distant voice of the ocean put your ear to the lips of a seashell.” - Curtis Tyrone Jones

Seashells are the exoskeletons of mollusks such as snails, clams, oysters and many others. They have a critical role in coastal ecosystems such as providing nesting materials, a home or attachment surface for algae, sea grass, sponges, and a host of other microorganisms. Fish also use seashells to hide from predators while hermit crabs use them as temporary shelters.

2 SeaLionScubaCom has the only specimen seashell permit (EP0002) in South Australia which is closely managed by the SA Fisheries Department. Founder Steve Robinson says, “it is my aim to offer seashells to the world with a guarantee that all specimens have been responsibly collected ensuring species sustainability. We currently have a database of every seashell taken by us (with photos and unique number) and will be able to verify all shells sold by us. You will see this section slowly grow as this business moves forward.”

How did this adventure start? According to ScubaCom’s website, Steve was looking for a semi-retirement plan and the opportunity to apply for a specimen seashell permit appeared. It was a tough decision considering his commitment to environmental responsibility and the sustainability of any species collected.

Steve carefully analyzed the environmental implications before starting this type of endeavor. “At this stage I considered very carefully the impact a specimen seashell license would have on the environment.” These considerations included (1) “this would be the only specimen seashell license in South Australia, so overfishing seemed impossible,” (2) “the weather would only allow me to fish a small number of days a year,” (3) “with specimen seashells, only the best shells have value so I would expect to only take about one quality shell out of thirty or more seen,” (4) “South Australia also has many sanctuary zones protecting many seashell populations and marine parks ensuring minimal impact on species.”

3 ShellMost seashell collection will be done with a JW Fishers’ Sealion-2 ROV to allow for individual seashell collection at a depth of 300 meters. The ROV has a modified manipulator arm with docking station so that seashells can be scooped up effortlessly. The umbilical from the surface is attached to the docking station and 25m of cable are coiled on the top shelf which come out when the ROV leaves the station. This eliminates the umbilical drag from the surface. This method of operation results in zero damage to the marine environment while searching. Utilizing a JW Fishers’ ROV also significantly expands the search area to include locations that divers cannot reach. 

Any seashells that ScubaCom has for sale on the website will show the fisherman’s license number, processors license number, export exemption details, where the shell was caught, identification photo and data base number, and other information. All of these details are available on a database, which the South Australian Fisheries Department can fully access. Also, a certificate will be issued with details, photos, and unique number. This certificate ensures all shells purchased have been collected under strict environmental management.

It is the aim of Steve’s company to ensure every seashell sold has been collected under strict environmental management. JW Fishers applauds Steve’s efforts to operate a successful business, while also taking environmental factors very seriously for our ocean waters.