Revolutionary trawl unveiled in New Zealand

New Zealand snapper swimming in new Precision Seafood Harvesting technology New Zealand snapper swimming in new Precision Seafood Harvesting technology

A new trawl that has been described as “revolutionary” has been revealed by scientists and three fishing companies in New Zealand.

The breakthrough design of the highly selective harvesting system allows fishing vessels to target specific species and fish size and greatly increases protection for small fish that can swim free through ‘escape portals’ and non‐target fish, which are released unharmed.

The project, ‘Precision Seafood Harvesting’, is based on the principal that the targeted species don’t need to come to the surface exhausted – if they can swim comfortably inside the large PVC liner then they will be in perfect condition, will be more sustainable and will fetch higher prices for fishing companies using the technology.

The project is a collaboration between New Zealand scientists and fishing companies Aotearoa Fisheries, Sanford and Sealord, who are investing $26 million into the project. The three companies have been actively trialling the new technology on their fishing vessels for the past six months.

Vessel Manager at Aotearoa Fisheries, Nathan Reid, says fisherman onboard their vessels are excited about the condition of the fish when they are landed. “Replacing old trawl technology is really important for the industry. We’re going to see better stock recruitment and better stock in the water – it’s better for everyone.”

Sanford CEO and Chairman of Seafood New Zealand, Eric Barratt, when unveiling the new technology said, “This is the biggest step forward for commercial fishing in 150 years. What we’ve developed in New Zealand has huge benefits for fish stocks, the environment, consumers and New Zealand’s seafood industry. In the process we’re set to change the global fishing industry for the better.”

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