The tuna of all of the oceans is being tracked and controlled of the company Marine Instruments, head-quartered in Nigrán (Pontevedra). By means of the integration of localisation and satellite communications equipment in marine buoys, Galician ship owners know in which zones the banks of tuna are located.


permanent reception of information about the state of the grids –the cages used to capture the fish that are installed by the ships– on the side of which they place the buoys that emit signals with the objective of facilitating fishing. The devices indicate the presence of the type of tuna in the area which facilitates their capture.

According to the General Director of the company, Francisco Pino, this technology is respectful of the environment by reducing CO2 emissions from the ship as well as permitting a double savings to the fishermen. On one hand, they use less fuel because now it is not necessary to move to each point at which the grids are installed in order to check if there are tuna or not. On the other hand, time is saved and they can improve the fish capturin strategy. According to the company, these advantages compensate for the investment that each buoy requires which is not more than 1,000 Euros. Keeping in mind that for only one hour of navigation a ship uses 200 litres of gasoline, the buoy ends up being very profitable economically.

Moreover, the system has the advantage of being able to send information at any distance, surpassing the limitations of conventional radiophonic transmission itself which is very much conditioned by the necessary closeness between the emitter and the receptor. In the same way, the advanced system has greater autonomy due to the incorporation of solar satellite technology and it functions continually for eight months, the time when it should be replaced.

In Francisco Pino’s judgement, the buoys are “highly resistant” to being battered as they are made of polypropylene plastics. The objective now is to reduce the presence of this material and to produce a more ecological product that will incorporate wood. Each one of these systems weighs some 7.5 kilos and does not involve a maintenance cost because the panels that are integrated permit them to function with solar energy.

These devices are now found on ships of various nations (Spain, France, the U.S.A., Korea, etc.) distributed across all of the oceans in the Equatorial zone from which information is sent concerning the quantity of tuna detected with a frequency established by the owner of each ship and which varies between 15 minutes and 12 hours. The data at the central factory in Nigrán is where the communication is interpreted and they resend the status detected on the high seas in an encrypted fashion to the visualisation software of the ship that owns the buoy.

The factory is dedicated to the production and tracking of the equipment for fishing, fundamentally tuna. It should be pointed out this Galician company is, along with a Madrid company, the only one in the world that produce buoys that contain this system. According to the General Director, having the sea alongside of the company installations is “essential” at the strategic level in order to be able to conduct tests and to improve their products under real conditions. Marine Instruments are also working on the control of fleets on radio buoys for trawl lines.

Innovation is what permits us to stay alive in our product market and it also guarantees the future of the company. Today, it is unthinkable to not incorporate innovation as it allows us to replace the price war as the only way to survive. We are wagering on di!erentiating ourselves in order to be competitive”. Francisco Pino


Francisco Pino attributes the success of the product to its capacities that are “the fruit of innovation and development but also of almost military production.” In this sense, it is important to note that the buoys pass at least 18 quality controls such as stress tests in extreme conditions, so that “even the smallest faults” can be observed in the factory which results in an improved functioning of the systems.

The buoy design with the probe was supported by public funding for the promotion of innovation and consequently the company was able to dedicate more economic resources and reduce the time of project execution. In the last three years, Marine Instruments received almost 600,000 Euros in subsidies from the Regional Government of Galicia which, according to the Manager, was “fundamental” for the development of its initiatives.

This company directed by Francisco Pino billed some 11 million Euros in 2010, more than double that of the previous year and the predictions for 2011 are positive to such a degree that they may surpass the totals of the last business cycle. In order to achieve these excellent economic results, the company have counted on the collaboration of the Technological Automotive Centre of Galicia (CTAG), the Institute of Catalysis and Petrochemistry of the Higher Council of Scientific Research (CSIC) for the patent of a hydrogen catalyser, and the Technical School of Telecommunications of the University of Vigo with which they develop antennae. Moreover, Marine Instruments form a part of the Spanish Technological Platform for Fishing and Aquaculture (PTEPA) and of the Technological IT Platform of Galicia (Vindeira).

One of the pillars of the business culture of Marine Instruments is that close to 30% of its employees are directly involved in R&D&I work, with ten engineers and two technicians dedicated to tasks associated with innovation and the management of the quantity budgeted for this objective which is approximately 10% of the billing volume. Daily meetings are held to address the coordination and application of ideas with innovative components. Moreover, by means of personal contact between technicians and engineers, they are able to review the activity of the company at any moment and exchange opinions with the objective of improving the service that they offer while, at the same time, stimulating motivation and the involvement of all employees regarding the contribution of new ideas.

Another of the visible results of innovation is the patenting of batteries that reduce hydrogen contamination provoked at the moment of charging (up to the point of exploding) which is an evident problem for the buoys. In collaboration with petrochemical technicians, they were able to design their own solution. Marine Instruments are announcing that this will not be the last innovation of this Galician company with 12,000 buoys distributed in the seas all around the world.

Some 30% of the employees are involved in work related to innovation