New fishing gear trials show fish discards are reduced Published: 18 September, 2012
Trials of new fishing gear supported by a grant from the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) have recorded successes in reducing both fish discards and ground impact caused by beam trawlers.
Early results from the ground impact trial project showed a reduction of 17 per cent in the volume of fish discarded when trawlers replaced traditional trawl gear with a roller ball system.
The trials compared the standard hopper footrope with a system comprising rubber rollers, which allows the trawl to roll across the seabed rather than being dragged. This reduces the impact on the seabed and by-catch of species not targeted by the fishermen. During the project two new sets of trawler gear were used one rigged to the standard specification used by South West beam trawlers and the other rigged with the roller ball system.
Run on behalf of South West Fish Producers’ Organisation by Seafish and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), the project was financed through a grant of over £44,000 from the EFF with support also provided by the Seafish Industry Project Fund and Langdon and Philips Trawlers of Brixham.
Gus Caslake, Project Manager for Seafish, said: “The initial results from this trial are 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. We are optimistic that this advance in trawling equipment will have a positive impact throughout the fishing industry.”
The trials were funded through Axis 3 of the EFF, through which around £15 million is available towards projects benefiting groups working within the fishing industry in England.