Selective gear technology

Seafish, along with the fishing industry, has been developing new selective technologies and net-based fishing activities for many years to reduce discarding. Gear Adaptation Technology is a proven method for reducing catches of unwanted fish and is helping the UK fishing fleet understand how adapting their gear could help them fish successfully under the terms of the landing obligation.

Regulatory controls

The EU rules which cover technical conservation measures, such as mesh size, minimum landing sizes, and the selectivity of fishing gear generally are covered by the Technical Conservation Regulation. Updating the existing regulation (EU 750/98) along with a number of subsidiary regulations is proving to be a long drawn out process. The aim is to usher in a radically different approach to selectivity that is fully aligned with the other elements of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy.

Gear selectivity work

Seafish gear trial work over the last 15 years is increasingly relevant and outputs of this research have influenced gear now being used in commercial fisheries. The information produced has been developed into some key tools:

Basic Fishing Methods (BFM) Handbook
This handbook (see downloads column), contains illustrations and descriptions of commonly used fishing methods, gears and rigs. It covers UK fisheries, with reference to other fisheries throughout the world that supply wild-caught fish and shellfish into the UK markets. The publication also provides some basic knowledge of how fish are caught using a range of fishing methods.

Gear Database
The Seafish gear database is a web-based tool providing information on all fishing methods in regular use in the UK and EU, and easy access to in depth information on fishing gear and accurate selectivity data. It gives a full description and illustration of each gear, as well as a list of the species that are caught by each one. It also lists the selectivity and discard reduction methods commonly applied to each gear, with links to more detailed descriptions and explanations of each device. There is also an assessment of how effective each selectivity method is in targeting only specific species, or size of fish. This is supported by details of all scientific trials that have been undertaken, and all the reports that have been produced for each of the selective gears in the UK in the last 20 years.

Seafish Best Practice Guidance for Assessing the Financial Performance of Fishing Gear
Seafish has developed Best Practice Guidance to make it easier for those involved in fishing gear trials to compare the cost and revenue of using old versus new gear and to provide a standardised approach to assess and report the financial effectiveness of experimental gear.
Uncertainty surrounding the costs and benefits of gear modifications may make vessel owners reluctant to make gear changes due to potential losses in time and revenue during trial periods. Before gear modifications are adopted, it is important to assess the financial effectiveness of gear modifications to make sure fishing operations remain profitable with new gear.

Seafish has developed Best Practice Guidance for industry and scientist-led gear trials to help vessel owners choose the right gear for their business. Seafish has also developed a Financial Assessment Spread sheet for vessel owners and trial supervisors (to use alongside the Best Practice Guidance), to provide a straightforward, standardised way for users to collect, analyse and compare gear trial results and assess the financial effectiveness of fishing modifications. See links below.

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