Six Hooks Per Second: The Technology Behind the Autoline
One day in the late 19th century, a Norwegian travelling salesman was wandering through the Amazon rainforest in the hills between Brazil and Venezuela, where he met with the Yanomami tribe and introduced them to the products in his suitcase: fish hooks. To this day the Yanomami word for fish hook is simply "a Mustad".
The story starts earlier, in 1832, when a steel mill was built in Gjøvik, Norway. By 1877, at a time when each and every hook was handmade, Mustad had invented the world's first fishhook machine. Fed with steel wire at one end, out came hooks at the other end. It was a revolution, and it would change the lives of fishermen everywhere.
Almost a hundred years later the idea of automated longline fishing was born when Mustad began further development of shipmaster Konrad Haram's self constructed baiting device. Baiting, coiling and the labor intensive handling of longline gear were done one hundred percent by hand until, in the early 1970s, Mustad began developing the first Mustad Autoline equipment. In 1979, After years of development, testing, and multiple technical break-throughs, the system was ready. New Autoline systems began to gain in popularity, and by 1983 there were 100 systems operating in the Northern Atlantic Ocean. In the following years, the Mustad Autoline system steadily gained global acceptance as the industry standard in the automated longline industry.
Mustad has continuously improved and expanded the Autoline system with new products, but the system's success can be attributed to two key milestones: in 1987 the EZ-baiter hook was introduced, radically improving catch rates, and in 2005 the Mustad Autoline SuperBaiter dramatically increased both setting speed and baiting efficiency.
New Automated Systems
A new development from Mustad is the drum-based Autoline SelectFish System with easy snap-on and snap-off technology. The snooded hooks with clips are stored on separate magazines for easy storage and handling, while the main line is efficiently spooled onto drums. The system is currently offered to the Norwegian and Spanish market and will eventually be introduced to markets all over the world.
A patented "Rotobaiter" system that automatically double hooks the bait is one of the key characteristics of a Mustad Autoline system. The bait is placed on a conveyor chain which feeds it into the machine. As the hooks are pulled through the machine, the knife is triggered by the passing hook, automatically cutting the bait to the desired preset. This system assures that accurately baited hooks with fresh bait enter the sea at speeds up to 6 hooks per second, with a baiting percentage approaching 100 percent. To ensure a high baiting efficiency the Mustad Autoline LineController system continuously monitors the baiting percentage thoughout the entire set.
Mustad Autoline is today a 6th generation Mustad owned family business devoted to perfecting the technique of automated longlining.
Every year Mustad puts some of its profit back into research and development to develop new products and upgrade existing products. The company's engineers work with customers and partners to address challenges and discover solutions.
Mustad Autoline is also engaged in larger development projects with external partners. One example is a development project working with the Dutch company SaveWave, toward solutions to environmental issues: incidental bycatch of seabirds and the challenge of whales and orcas predating on longlines during hauling.
Multiple new Freezer longliners have chosen Mustad Autoline as their supplier of Autoline equipment. For example the newly built Leinebris in Norway and the Cap Kersaint in France. Both of these vessels are an image of forward thinking with focus on quality, environment and efficiency.
Mustad Autoline has once again been chosen by Blue North to be their complete supplier of all the hook and line fishing equipment needed to operate an efficient, reliable, and safe longline vessel.
New US Installation
The company's newsest vessel, the 191-foot freezer longliner F/V Blue North (see related story, page 18), is equipped with the most modern Autoline equipment in the world, with the capacity to store more than 75,000 hooks.
The hauling system for the new vessel is based on the new and powerful H3200 hauler, with an integrated rotating brush cleaning system, dubbed "RotoCleaner", for thorough cleaning of hooks and line, as well as the line retriever "FB320" for keeping constant tension on the line in the sheaves.
The HookSeparator SP 2000-03 is the newest and most advanced model available; upgraded with a sloped outlet rail to reduce labor for the crew to a minimum, and to provide an excellent hook catch up rate during high speed hauling.
For storing of the hooks and line, Mustad has provided a new hydraulic operated MP600 – MagPacker, with a capacity of 216 meters of storage magazines.
As the first installation in the US market of this upgraded and improved Mag Packer system, Mustad expects the system to make the work far easier and safer for the crew.
To bait and set the hooks and line, Blue North is fitted with a high performance SuperBaiter with the capacity to bait up to 6 hooks per second.
To control and monitor both the setting and hauling process, the company delivered and installed the MA LineController system, which provides the operator with valuable information on setting speed, the number of hooks set or hauled, catch data such as species, location, and depth, and perhaps the most important, the bait percentage.
The LineController also controls the hauling operation, and the operator can adjust speed and power on the hauler from the wheelhouse. The LineController prevents overload on the line, and provides a smooth and safe hauling process, securing maximum recovery of catch.