Resn and Sea Shepherd use AR to raise awareness of 'bycatch' fishing

17 February 2020

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The experience for mobile devices aims to raise awareness by putting users at the centre of the harsh reality of commercial fishing.

Creative design and experience studio Resn and environmental non-profit Sea Shepherd have joined forces to create Below the Surface AR—an augmented reality experience for mobile devices that aims to raise awareness of "bycatching" by putting users at the centre of the harsh reality of commercial fishing.

Bycatch is a term coined by the fishing industry that means anything caught by fishing boats that isn’t the target species.

That innocent-sounding word hides a brutal reality: billions of unwanted animals are slaughtered every year to put fish on your plate.

About 40% of worldwide fish catch is bycatch. Birds, turtles, dolphins, whales and countless other species are caught by fishing vessels and then dumped back into the ocean, dead or dying.

In 2019 alone, over 11,000 dolphins were killed off the west coast of France. Although many have tried to raise the alarm bell about the issue, the problem is only getting worse.

For the Resn, this oceanic cause is a personal one.

“Our goal is to shine a light on what bycatch really is: the systematic extermination of sea life,” Resn global managing director Rik Campbell says.

“It’s the fishing industry’s dirty little secret and, for some reason, it’s all perfectly legal.”

Below the Surface AR transports you beneath the waves to experience the cost of bycatch for yourself.

Zooming in from an Earth-eye view to the depths of the sea, the journey starts beneath the tranquil ocean before being disrupted by countless dolphins struggling in tangled fishing nets.

Suddenly, a fishing boat begins thoughtlessly discarding bloodied, dead dolphins overboard—victims of bycatch.

Visceral and affecting, the experience then provides links to online resources where users can learn more about the crisis or donate to the cause.

“We’re using AR to transpose the ocean’s reality to your own,” Resn creative director Simon Jullien says.

Below the Surface AR is accessible from a web browser on most mobile phones.

“We made it browser-based so there’s nothing to download,” Jullien says.

“Unlike a native app, which can leverage existing AR platforms, we developed our own AR approach that could be used in a browser.”

Resn and Sea Shepherd hope the experience will make people think twice before they open a can of tuna or order fish and chips.

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