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When considering which fishing gear best suits your needs, it’s important to think about target species, size of vessel, common fishing methods in the area, the gear design, efficiency and how it is operated as well as the gear’s environmental impact.

Buying new fishing gear can be an expensive investment, and so the decision of which gear to buy should not be made lightly; most fishermen will consult gear manufacturers, who can offer advice and guidance, before buying. The three major factors to take into consideration when choosing fishing gear are:

  • Selectivity, or the measurement of the selection process of a fishing gear. Fishing gear selectivity is a comparison of the length and frequency of each species caught to that of the total population available to catch. Gears with better selectivity reduce discards and stock exploitation; gear selectivity can be improved with the inclusion of square mesh panels, codends, inclined grids and large mesh panels. The FAO have produced a document on gear selectivity.
  • Gear efficiency, which maximises catch value in relation to fuel consumption. This makes a fisherman’s work more cost-effective and profitable. Towed gears, for example, can be monitored and assessed using electronics to ensure that the gear is operating optimally; however, some smaller vessels may have to rely more on the skipper’s expertise. Multi-rigs can often improve efficiency by reducing gear drag. Efficiency is constantly being improved in nets, trawl doors, warps and other aspects of gear.
  • Fuel efficiency. 70-80% of fuel consumption is spent on towing fishing gear, indicating that this is where the greatest savings can be made. Fuel flow meters can be used to help skippers to monitor their engine’s efficiency and fuel consumption over time, and many skippers find that small reductions in revs result in substantial reductions in fuel usage. We have also tested the results of fuel additives, which did not seem to improve fuel efficiency, and produced a factsheet on carbon emissions via fuel use in the fishing sector.

More information about fishing gear design and construction can be found in this Seafish technology note or, alternatively you can contact: seafish@seafish.co.uk.