Discard Reduction Trawl Work
Under new European legislation all the practice of discarding for demersal vessels will be phased out by 2019, and for pelagic fisheries by 2015. However, Scottish fishermen have already been working for a considerable time in adopting our own discard reduction polices. In particular, this has involved the incorporation of square mesh panels into trawls that effectively provides an escape hatch for juvenile and other non-target fish to escape.
More recently, the Scottish fishing industry has been involved in a project to develop new and innovative designs of prawn trawls that significantly reduce discards even further of whitefish such as cod. The designs represent a new approach to fisheries management where fishermen fed up with unworkable European regulations have taken matters into their own hands to deliver effective conservation.
Working in partnership with the Scottish Government, the new designs of prawn trawl have achieved reductions of over 60% of cod caught when compared to a standard trawl, with one of the designs having the ability to reduce the cod by-catch by 87%. Trials conducted by the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation have also shown that the new trawls can achieve a 67% reduction in haddock and 64% fall in whiting, as well as achieving the required reductions in the cod catch.
Two of the approved designs are now being utilised by the Scottish prawn fleet – the ‘Flip-Flap’ trawl developed by Gamrie Bay Prawn Trawls in Gardenstown, and the Faithlie ‘Cod Avoidance Panel’ net developed by Faithlie Trawl of Fraserburgh. These two designs are similar in that they incorporate variations of internal panels to direct fish towards escape holes at the top of the net.
Several other trawl designs are in the process of being trialled and approved by Marine Scotland Science. These incorporate a variety of technical features, including a reduction in the area of netting at the top of the net and the use of square mesh panels in the trawl to facilitate the escape of small fish. The whitefish which remain in the net are covered by the boat’s fish quota for the mixed fishery, keeping discards down to a minimum.