Fishermen say new system shrinks net –

Fishermen say new system shrinks net Published:  05 November, 2009

A NEW electronic net measuring system is starting to create unforeseen problems for some UK fishermen because it is shrinking their nets, it is being claimed.

Called Omega, the system was introduced by the Marine and Fisheries Agency two months ago, but now trawler crews in Cornwall are discovering that their nets are becoming illegal after just a few trips because the meshes are not measuring up to the required size.

One company, W. Stevenson & Son, saw a reduction of 12mm after just three trips to sea. Elizabeth Stevenson, from the company told the BBC: ‘We put new 90mm cod ends on vessels three trips ago. It was measured by the MFA when it went to sea. Three trips later some were measuring 78mm with the electronic gauge which is illegal.’

The manufacturer, Euronete UK, said Omega was more accurate and was able to detect the shrinking which was most likely caused by a build up of sand.

Euronete UK, said: ‘The nets have not changed. The difference is between the way the nets used to be measured and the way they are measured by Omega.’ Euronete UK said it was researching new technology for cod ends to ensure they did not ‘shrink’ so quickly.

The MFA said the new equipment would enable meshes to be measured consistently because they do not rely on the hand pressure applied to the old wedge gauges. The move was in response to demand for standardisation and consistency by fisheries inspectors, scientists and the industry.