Seafish: New fishing gear reduces discards

Seafish on Monday reported that trials of new fishing gear have successfully reduced ground impact caused by beam trawlers and further reduced fish discards.

The industry organization worked with a team to implement the roller ball system. Unlike traditional beam trawl gear, the roller ball system involves replacing the standard hopper footrope with rubber rollers. This allows the trawl to roll across the seabed instead of being dragged, so it is less harmful to the environment. During the seven-day trial, a standard trawl was towed on one side of the vessel and a roller ball on the other side. Initial results showed a 17 percent reduction in the volume of discarded fish.

The project was run on behalf of South West Fish Producers Organization and co-financed by the European Fisheries Fund, Seafish Industry Project Fund and Langdon and Phillips Trawlers of Brixham. 

Additionally, underwater video cameras and load cells were used to capture the impact on the seabed. Findings suggest that the roller ball provided between 14 percent and 20 percent reduction in the towed weight of the gear.

“The roller ball system certainly reduces impact on the seabed resulting in less bycatch,” said Gus Caslake, Seafish project manager. “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.”


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