New trawl design aims to reduce number of discarded fish


A NEW design of trawl net developed by the Scottish fishing industry for reducing discards has been unveiled.

The approval of the ‘flip-flap’ trawl by the European Commission’s Scientific and Technical Committee for Fisheries (STCF) in its latest April plenary report is an important vote of confidence for the Scottish industry in its endeavours to find practicable ways of dramatically reducing discards.

The trawl has been designed for use in the prawn fishery and features a small panel inside the trawl that is able to select target species but reject unwanted sizes and types of fish. Trials have shown it to reduce discards by as much as 70%.

The net will now form an important component of meeting the requirements of the EC’s Cod Recovery Plan and its commitment to reduce discards. It is also hoped the trawl will help convince the EC to adopt a more practicable approach to fisheries management next year by bringing to an end the continual cuts in the number of days that fishing vessels can put to sea.

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish fishermen’s Federation, said: “We welcome this approval from the STCF, which is a vote of confidence in the innovation and determination of our fishermen to develop new types of selective fishing gear to reduce discards.

“We also hope that the EC heeds the approval of its own technical committee and recognises the effectiveness of this and other similar types of trawl that are now being used by significant sections of the Scottish fleet when formulating their fisheries management proposals for next year.”