GearingUp gets ready for growth

GearingUp gets ready for growth GearingUp is set to grow in providing an online database of fishing gear knowledge. Photo: QB

The GearingUp project, set up as an online tool capable of being used to share technical fishing gear information in anticipation of the Landing Obligation, is now heading for a version 2.0 now that the crucial 1st January 2019 date has passed.

Online at gearingup.eu, the project has brought together an online database of more than a hundred gear selectivity and catch comparison trials that have taken place in Northern European waters since 2002. The aim behind it has been to make fishing gear trials more readily available and provide detailed results of how different selective gears performed in practice. The GearingUp interactive tool can be used by anyone searching for practical guidance on how to modify their fishing gear to meet the Landing Obligation– and now that it’s here, the GearingUp team are working on extending its life and expanding its scope beyond exclusively towed gears and to take it beyond the North Atlantic region that has so far been its focus.

“We have loved bringing GearingUp to life since we first heard the concept two years ago. In that time, we've stayed focused on the purpose of the tool, our key audience, the fishing industry,” said Harriet Yates-Smith, one of the team behind GearingUp, along with Thomas Catchpole at CEFAS.

“When the first phase of the project wrapped up in October 2018, the Gearing Up team immediately started to look at the next incremental improvement we could make. With the Landing Obligation now in place, it’s vital this isn't just another project to sit on a shelf and stagnate, but one that will get more useful with time,” she said.

“This is the opportunity to continue and keep it evolving, and to help the tool expand. We still have a list of things that we are looking to do to enhance the tool further, including the option to share non-published trials, by supporting the addition of gear experiments trialled independently by fishermen.”

She commented that while the primary interest in GearingUp has been from Europe – the top countries where traffic comes from are the UK, Ireland, Spain, Belgium and Denmark – GearingUp has recorded traffic from more than 36 countries

“We know we have a core of users who are not only visiting the tool, but coming back, checking for new trials or re-visiting information that's interested them. We also have a huge range of geographies accessing GearingUp and 30% of our users have returned for more information. It’s also noticeable that there’s a spike in traffic when new trials are added to the database of information that’s already there,’ she said.

“We're constantly on the lookout for feedback from fishermen and scientists, and we're currently in a focused phase of outreach to those ​audiences to learn more about how we can improve, adapt and grow. We're also actively business-developing to ensure a long-term future for the tool.”

Since the initial launch, GearingUp has already been built on and improved, including with the addition last year of a new online form making it easier for users to add their own gear trial results, as well as an improved results section and gear graphics.
“We've also presented the tool to the UN, consulting on a similar tool in a different area that the FAO is developing. We've taken part in conferences, working groups and advisory councils, and recently presented to an audience of DG MARE officials, where a senior scientist from the Landing Obligation unit, said the GearingUp tool was the one of the best things he’s seen in fisheries for a long time,” Harriet Yates-Smith said.
“So with the LO in full force, now is not the time for us to get complacent. We're hugely ambitious about what the tool could further evolve into, and we're optimistic, ambitious and actively seeking funding to continue this work.”

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