Selective gear technology for fishing

Developments in selective technologies and net-based fishing activities are helping the UK fishing fleet to adapt their gear and fish successfully.

Gear selectivity work

We have worked with the fishing industry to develop new selective technologies and net-based fishing activities to help reduce discarding. One proven method is Gear Adaptation Technology, which reduces catches of unwanted fish. This technology is helping the UK fishing fleet understand how adapting their gear could help them fish successfully under the terms of the landing obligation.

The outputs from gear trials research over the last 15 years have influenced the gear now being used in commercial fisheries. The information produced has been developed into some useful tools which are available from the links below.

Basic fishing methods handbook

The Basic Fishing Methods handbook 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.

Fishing gear database

Our gear database is a web-based tool providing information on all fishing methods in regular use in the UK and EU.

It offers easy access to in depth information on fishing gear and accurate selectivity data. You can search records to get 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.

Please note - we are currently updating the content for our fishing gear database so it is offline at the moment. It will be available again soon but if you have any queries in the meantime please contact David Warwick by the details below.

Best practice guidance for assessing the financial performance of fishing 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.

We have developed Best Practice Guidance for Assessing the financial Performance of Fishing Gear to make it easier for those involved in fishing gear trials to compare the cost and revenue of using old versus new gear.

We have also developed a Financial Assessment Spreadsheet 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.

Regulatory controls on fishing

The EU rules for technical conservation measures are included in the Technical Conservation Regulation. This covers a range of factors including mesh size, minimum landing sizes, and the selectivity of fishing gear generally.  

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.


For further information contact:

David Warwick
Fishing Gear Innovation Manager
07876 035 721
Ana Witteveen
0131 524 8659
07815 428 554