Grad Student Helps Ensure the Future of Fishing

He uses technology to monitor fish harvests at sea

By Zoe Binder ’23, USF News Posted Thu, 05/26/2022 - 10:30

Growing up in Hawaii, Alex Min MSEI ’22 saw, touched, and tasted the ocean nearly every day. “My mom would take me to the beach to go fishing, and that was all I ever wanted to do,” he said.

Today, Min still loves fishing — and he is building his life around it. 

“Traceability in the fishing industry has become a huge deal to me,” he said. “Where does this sushi that I’m eating come from? Most of the time I don’t know and that’s a problem.”

The High Seas

Min brings several years of experience to USF. After high school, he spent half his time in the Coast Guard at sea and half on land, helping coastal communities in Guam, El Salvador, and Panama prepare for natural disasters.

After six years in the service, he narrowed his professional focus to one thing: fish. He didn’t want to work in a lab or in the corporate world, he said, so in 2021 he enrolled in USF’s MSEI (Entrepreneurship and Innovation) program.

“The MSEI program teaches you the foundations of business but also the creativity and design that you need for entrepreneurship,” Min said. “I couldn’t ask for a more diverse and entrepreneurial group of leaders to learn with.”

Enter Teem Fish

For the internship required by the MSEI program, Min joined Teem Fish Monitoring, a women-led tech startup out of British Columbia that uses cameras, data capture, and artificial intelligence on fishing boats at sea. The technology helps ensure that fishers fish in approved zones, catch what they’re approved to catch, limit their catch to sustainable levels, and transmit their data to government observers. 

“Using what I learned from Johnathan Cromwell in Creativity, Innovation, and Applied Design class, I’m helping Teem Fish by learning how the product works, learning how the user wants to improve it, and developing tech to make those changes,” Min said.

Min works for Teem Fish from his home in San Rafael, takes the ferry into the city twice a week for classes, and fishes for salmon and halibut as often as he can.

He said that technology can help ensure a future for fish and for fisheries.

“The MSEI program has helped me learn a lot more about tech and how to talk to people in tech,” he said. “MSEI primes you to believe that you can make a difference in the world.”