Can new technology save fish?

25 February 2013

Source: BBC

Author: Roger Harrabin

A technological revolution is needed for Europe to end the controversial practice of discarding fish, according to the EU’s fisheries commissioner.

Maria Damanaki is calling for boats to be fitted with smart nets to filter out fish which would later be discarded as too small or above quota.  And she wants more on-board cameras to ensure that crews cannot cheat on fishing rules.  She told BBC News that the hoped-for reform of the Common Fisheries Policy could not happen unless fishermen harnessed new technology.  Spy-in-the-wheelhouse CCTV cameras trialled in the UK are said to have cut cod discards from 38% to just 0.2%.  

The other key technology is fishing net design, which Ms Damanaki says is the single most important component of fisheries reform.  One innovation is a slanting plastic grid at the centre of a trawl net. Large fish are diverted by the grid into the keep end of the net whilst young fish and shrimps pass through the slots. The grid is bendable so it can be wound up with fishing gear.

The Rollerball net is another recent arrival. Traditional beam trawlers seeking flatfish drag heavy gear along the sea bed, churning up the sand and destroying much that lies in their path.  Rollerball runs over the seabed on what look like beach-balls. It is said to reduce damage and drag by between 11 and 16%, and there are hopes for further improvements. Cutting drag also trims fuel bills and pollution.

For more, go to: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-21500701