Discards and seabed damage slashed by net innovation
August 02 2012 Lewis Smith
The experimental net
Rubber balls fitted to beam trawl nets reduce discards and damage to the seabed, tests have shown.
The balls roll over the seabed which cuts down on the damaging impact the nets have as they are dragged along by boats. In initial tests the “roller balls” are calculated to have reduced the volume of discards by 17 per cent.
The quality of the fish that are caught for market also improved because less sand and broken shell gets swept up among them – it can affect the surface and get in the gills.
Because the balls roll and have a smaller footprint than the length of footrope that was previously in dragging along the seabed, the fishing boats hauling the beam trawl nets consume less fuel. The nets are also likely to last longer.
“Everyone benefits,” said Alan Porter who designed the net with Darren Edwards. “Not only does it cut discards and save fuel, but we are benefiting by the quality of the fish.
“We’ve always had a problem with fishing gear running along the bottom and being worn out very quickly. We came up with the idea that if something was rolling along then it would stop the drag factor.”
Mr Porter, who along with Mr Edwards was previously involved in Project 50 Per Cent which reduced beam trawl bycatch by 50 per cent, hopes to get a chance to test a different type of ball on a net as he believes that one with an ability to turn would would bring further improvements.
The innovation was tested on the beam trawler Barentszee, based in Brixham, and the skipper, Shaun Gibbs, has been impressed enough by the results to keep using the equipment.
Gus Caslake, Project Manager for Seafish which helped fund the experimental gear, described the initial results as “positive”.
“The roller ball system certainly reduces impact on the seabed resulting in less by-catch. It is early days and we are continuing to collate our findings, which we hope to publish in the coming weeks. We are optimistic that this advance in trawling equipment will have a positive impact throughout the fishing industry,” he said.
“It is very encouraging that Shaun, the skipper of the Barentszee, has retained the roller gear on board and is working with Edd [Mr Edwards]to make further improvements.”
The reduction in discards was measured by Simon Armstrong, of Cefas, and Mr Caslake who took samples while the cut in damage to the seabed was observed on underwater video recordings, backed up by measurements that showed the weight of gear striking the sea floor was 14 to 20 per cent lower than usual.
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1 Responses to "Discards and seabed damage slashed by net innovation"
Ian Spinks Says:
We need to stop the Dutch and anybody else who are using the nets with electric pulses ,which make the flat fish come out from under the sand ,As a beach fisherman it has become devoid of fish along the Southern beaches.
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