Scots develop new trawls to cut discards

Scottish fishermen are developing new prawn trawls which are designed to reduce discards. © Henry Wolcott/Marine Photobank Scottish fishermen are developing new prawn trawls which are designed to reduce discards. © Henry Wolcott/Marine Photobank

Scottish fishermen who are fed up with “unworkable” European regulations are developing new prawn trawls which are designed to reduce discards.

Results from the new designs of prawn trawls have shown a reduction of 60% of cod caught compared to a standard trawl, and one design can reduce the cod bycatch by 87%.

Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) trials have also shown that the new trawls can achieve a 67% reduction in haddock and 64% fall in whiting, as well as the cod reductions.

The ‘Flip-Flap’ trawl developed by Gamrie Bay Prawn Trawls and the ‘Cod Avoidance Panel’ net developed by Faithlie Trawl have both been approved and are being used by the Scottish prawn fleet. Both designs incorporate variations of internal panels to direct fish towards escape holes at the top of the net.

Marine Scotland Science is also in the process of trialling and approving several other trawl designs incorporating a variety of technical features, including a reduction in the area of netting at the top of the net and the use of square mesh panels in the trawl to facilitate the escape of small fish. The whitefish which remain in the net are covered by the boat’s fish quota for the mixed fishery, keeping discards down to a minimum.

The initial spur for the development of these trawls was a means of allowing increased fishing days for the fleet. In a deal brokered by the Scottish and UK Governments, boats that use these new nets are able to ‘win’ back extra fishing days.

The Scottish fishing industry is also working on other ways of reducing discards, including participating in a management scheme involving real-time area closures to avoid aggregations of spawning fish.

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