New bycatch reduction device to be trialled

A new industry-designed bycatch reduction device (BRD) will be trialled in the Northern Prawn Fishery over the next two weeks.

The device, called ‘Kons Covered Fisheyes’, has been designed by Kon Triantopoulos, a former skipper and now net maker for A Raptis & Sons. It will be trailed on a trawler owned by Tropic Ocean Prawns Pty Ltd to determine its effectiveness in reducing small fish bycatch caught during prawn trawling operations.

An AFMA observer and AFMA bycatch officer will be onboard to collect and record data and perhaps witness BRD breakthrough.

NPF Industry Pty Ltd (NPFI) is encouraging operators to undertake their own trials of new or modified bycatch reduction devices or gear modifications, in order to meet a 30% bycatch reduction goal in the NPF over three years.

Three new devices were trialled by Raptis in 2015 with encouraging results for the modified fisheye device (‘Kons Covered Fisheyes’) showing a 19% reduction in bycatch with minimal (<2%) prawn loss when compared to a net with the currently approved BRD. A ‘trials guide’ was developed by NPFI and CSIRO to ensure consistency in trial design and the collection and recording of data.

The ‘Kons Covered Fisheyes’ will go in the running to win up to $20 000 in prize money offered by NPFI.  NPFI chief executive officer, Annie Jarrett, said the incentive program is aimed at encouraging NPF fishers to use their skills and knowledge to develop new and innovative ways to reduce bycatch.

“The combination of industry innovation and incentives, and AFMA support for the NPF trials is a great example of industry and Government working together to achieve greater sustainability of Commonwealth fisheries,” Ms Jarrett said.

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