Oil, Blue Fin Tuna, and the CGAL Surface Mesh Generator


Oil, Blue Fin Tuna, and the CGAL Surface Mesh Generator

April 1st, 2010

Rarely a successful technology transfer lead to as much internal dispute in the CGAL project as this one.

Helping software development teams of several oil&gas companies to integrate the CGAL Surface Mesh generator in geophysics data interpretation software, Dr. Laurent Rineau, R&D engineer at Geometry Factory, realized that the very same technolgoy can be used to find Blue Fin Tuna in sonar data. A body of oil and a body of a fish are technically speaking the same. Dr. Rineau spent the first half of 2009 on two important aspects: speed, as the interpretation has to happen fast enough that the tuna cannot swim away, and secondly: dealing efficiently with sharp features. The latter also impacts performance as it is obvious that the generation of a surface mesh of a fin with 7812 triangles takes longer than the approximation with 112 triangles, especially as the average school counts 20,000 fish.

The second half of 2009 was a reality check. In a pilot project run by the Japanese Fisheries Agency (JFA) the software called "Poisson" was used on a Japanese research trawler in the Mediterranean Sea. It became quickly clear that this was disruptive technology. Even better, it turned out that the hypothesis tuna would get extinct, if agressive fishing continues, can no longer be hold. As Dr Hamashi Sushimi, project leader at the JFA, explained: "Tuna of the size of a Sushi can now be detected in waters deeper than ever - 2010 is not 'Peak tuna'". This was among one of the reasons why Blue Fin Tuna was not put on the red list of endagered species at the last Doha Round in March 2010.

In order to secure at the same time the future of GeometryFactory, and the free license of CGAL's surface mesher, the patent submission number 455.54325-2.01.2010 covering this technology, is deliberately limited to the scope of fishing.

Useful Links
- Surface Mesh Generator
- Interview with Dr Hamashi Sushimi from the Japanese Fishery Agency

Contact Information
Press map: info@cgal.org
License inquiries: Klaus.Karpfen@geometryfactory.com