Seafish runs Trawl Gear Technology Training course
During February the Gear Technology section of Seafish held three trawl gear technology courses for fishermen from England, the last to be funded within the current project, reports Mike Montgomerie, Seafish Gear Technologist.
This project was funded by Seafish and EFF England and managed and run by Mike Montgomerie and Gus Caslake. These courses were held at Sintef Flume Tank in Hirtshals, Denmark involving fishermen from throughout England skippering trawlers ranging in size from under 10m up to 24m, fishing with single, twin and triple rigs.
Participants in the first course were all experienced skippers from both twin and single rig boats fishing from NE England. Initially quite a bit of time was spent on the standard nets used by the fishermen to demonstrate common alterations they regularly make, explaining the unexpected effects each alteration had on their gear. As many of the skippers were in the process of altering their own gear to accommodate technical modifications to release cod bycatch, participants looked at various discard reduction and selectivity devices fitted into model trawls and discussed how these could best suit their fishery in relation to the fish behaviour as they enter a trawl.
The second group of the week comprised of fishermen from several different areas using very different styles of trawling. Present were four from Leigh-on-Sea who targeted Dover sole using triple rig, four under 10m skippers from Hartlepool using single trawls for nephrops and round fish and two skippers from 20m plus vessels who both twin rig, one for nephrops and fish from Fleetwood, the other on round fish working in SW England. Quite a mixture! Covering so many types of trawling in the same course can be difficult but all the guys worked well together and took a great deal of interest in the other skippers rigs.
On the second day, the morning was used to view and discuss various options for discard reduction and improving selectivity in relation to the skippers own gear and fishing grounds. The afternoon was spent making alterations to models of the fisherman’s own gear setups to explore possible improvements. The triple rig skippers re-rigged the triple rig nets to use a second set of trawl doors to spread the centre net instead of the normal skids. While the triple rig was being set up the Hartlepool skippers worked on alterations to their standard V doors and the twin rig skippers were making alterations to the sweep and warp lengths of the model trawls in the tank. This resulted in a very busy day for Mike and Gus but 10 very satisfied fishermen left Hirtshals that night.
On the final course were a group of skippers from SW England who used high opening bottom trawls to target demersal species such as haddock, lemon sole, plaice, john dory along with squid and cuttlefish The first day time was spent looking at ‘fork rigs’ where the top bridle is rigged ahead of the trawl door to slightly increase the height of the headline and decrease the seabed contact of the gear. Several different trawls were fitted with this rig using a variety of doors to see the variation in effect on different net designs, model trawls used were all similar to those commonly used by the SW skippers. After a run through the various forms of twin rig, time was spent on trawl doors and their rigging alterations. In particular the fishermen wanted to see how easy it would be to swim the doors off the bottom, reducing seabed impact, but keeping the trawl on the seabed. After a few issues with the stability of the doors a workable set up was arrived at that some of the skippers will be trialling at sea in the coming months.
All the groups that go on trawl gear technology courses are asked to complete an evaluation and comments sheet. This provides Seafish with a numerical score for each course, some comments that help make improvements if necessary and a value for money estimation from each participant.
For the first course the average scoring was 4.63 out of a possible of 5, with total VFM of 80K, for the second course a score of 4.46 and VFM of 110K, the third course as score of 4.88and VFM of 95K. For the three courses the VFM was at least four times the cost of the courses. On the comments page, all were positive with comments such as “Staff very knowledgeable and all questions answered in detail. Excellent”, “Very good course and would recommend to others”, “First class course, most friendly and enjoyable”. So Seafish must be doing something right!
These scorings and comments are similar to those from other courses that have been run as part of this project earlier in 2012. Further Trawl Gear Technology training courses for fishermen from throughout the UK are being arranged by Seafish to commence in autumn 2013.
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