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Seafish Announces Success of Revolutionary Ground Impact Trial

24 July 2012, at 1:00am

UK - Seafish has announced that industry trials of revolutionary fishing gear have been successful in reducing ground impact caused by beam trawlers and further reducing fish discards.

Seafish has been working closely with part of the team responsible for the successful 50 per cent discard project including net designers Darren 'Edd' Edwards, Alan Porter and Shaun Gibbs, skipper of the Barentszee, a Brixham beam trawler, to trial the innovative roller ball footrope.

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 as opposed to being dragged. It is this "rolling" motion which reduces ground impact minimising the effect on the bethnic organisms, resulting in less by-catch and an improved quality of retained fish.

The project has been run on behalf of South West Fish Producers Organisation and has been co-financed by the European Fisheries Fund, Seafish Industry Project Fund and Langdon and Philips Trawlers of Brixham. The roller ball system was trialled onboard the 30m beam trawler the Barentszee BM361. During the seven day trial a standard trawl was towed on one side of the vessel and compared with the concept roller ball towed on the opposite side. Gus Caslake from Seafish and Simon Armstrong from Cefas sampled the catches during the week and initial results show a reduction of 17 per cent in the volume of fish discarded.

In addition to this, underwater video cameras and load cells were used to capture the effect on the seabed. The footage and load cell results clearly show that the roller ball system vastly reduces the impact and overall drag on the seabed. Initial findings suggest that the roller ball process has provided somewhere between 14 per cent and 20 per cent reduction in the towed weight of the gear.

Gus Caslake, Project Manager for Seafish, commented: "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, 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. It is very encouraging that Shaun, the skipper of the Barentszee, has retained the roller gear on board and is working with Edd to make further improvements."

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