Selective gear technology for fishing | Seafish

Selective gear technology for fishing

We work with the fishing industry in the UK to develop selective gear technologies that improve net-based fishing.

Selective technology and gear trials

Gear adaptations and selective technologies help to reduce catches of unwanted fish. They tested in gear trials. The outputs from trials over the last 20 years have influenced the gear now being used in commercial fishing. 

A Sumwing Beam Trawl on the vessel Margaret of Ladram
Sumwing beam trawl on the vessel Margaret of Ladram

Report on Sumwing beam trawl trials

We were asked to provide technical support during a sea trial of an innovative Sumwing beam trawl by the Western Fish Producers Organisation (WFPO).  

A short sea trial was carried out over the course of three days on the MFV Margaret of Ladram (E 198). It’s a 30m beam trawl vessel fishing from the port of Brixham on the south coast of Devon. This was the first time the technology had been trialled on a UK fishing vessel operating on fishing grounds traditionally worked by the UK beam trawl fleet.   

Results from the trial showed a 42% saving in fuel, and on average since the trial, the skipper has reported a 30% fuel saving. Impact of the trawls on the seabed has been reduced substantially, resulting in a reduction of benthic discards by 69%. The reduction in seabed impact has improved the quality of the fish retained in the trawl and reduced wear and tear on the gear, doubling its lifespan. 

The full report on the sea trial explains the methodology undertaken. It also includes details of the technical characteristics of the Sumwing beam trawl gear. You can download a copy of this report from the link below.   

Review of gear trials in the UK

During the spring and summer of 2020 we interviewed experts about their experience working on gear trials. We wanted to gather knowledge and insight on good practice to see what can be learned from past projects. The findings from the review have been compiled in a final report. It includes recommendations on:

  • Funding and project duration;
  • Project coordination and management;
  • Trial ideas and development process;
  • Tendering for vessels;
  • Trial protocols and contracts;
  • Data collection;
  • Data analysis and industry report.

A copy of the report is available from the link below:

The Fishing Gear Database contains a wealth of information on selective gear technology, supported by photography and illustrations of gear.

Fishing gear database

Our gear database is an online tool with information on fishing methods used in the UK and EU. You can search the database for records on different types of gear and selective devices. The records include: 

  • Full descriptions and explanations of each gear and device; 
  • Illustrations and photos of gear and devices; 
  • Lists of species caught by each gear; 
  • Lists of selectivity and discard reduction methods commonly applied to each gear; 
  • Assessment of how effective each selectivity method is in targeting specific species or size of fish. 

You can access the database from the link below: 

Assessing the financial performance of fishing gear 

It’s important to assess the financial effectiveness of modifications to make sure fishing remains profitable with new gear. 

We have developed best practice guidance for industry and scientist-led gear trials. These guides make it easier for those involved in trials to compare the cost and revenue of new gear. This can help vessel owners to choose the right gear for their business. Access the guides on the following links below. 

We have also developed a financial assessment tool for vessel owners and trial supervisors to use alongside the guidance. This spreadsheet provides a simple way to collect, analyse and compare gear trial results and assess the financial effectiveness of fishing modifications. You can use this tool to: 

  • Calculate trip level fishing revenue based on catch composition and market prices; 
  • Consider fishing expenses, such as fuel and crew costs;
  • Generate a trip level financial assessment of the gear – this can be compared across trips and scaled up to estimate longer term financial impacts. 

A copy of the spreadsheet is available from the link below: 

Further information on gear technology

Other sources of useful information on gear technology are available from the external links below: 


For further information on selective technology or gear trials contact:

David Warwick
Fishing Gear Innovation Manager
07876 035 721
Gus Caslake
Industry Engagement Manager – SW England
+44 (0) 1209 713162
+44 (0) 0787 6035738
Ana Witteveen
0131 524 8659
07815 428 554