Brixham Trawl Makers: Working locally to make fishing gear more sustainable

Brixham Trawl Makers manufacture 90% of all beam trawls used by the port’s fishing vessels. Owner, founder and director Darren Edwards (known as Edd) is working with the local fishing industry to make fishing gear more sustainable.

Edd and his team have over the 50 years combined experience in the commercial fishing industry. Edd started his career going to sea on Brixham beam trawlers where he learnt his trade fishing and servicing heavy duty fishing gear. After 11 years on deck he came ashore and found employment at a local chandlery we’re he continued to build his knowledge of the trade. He then went on to found Brixham Trawl Makers to provide the heavy duty essentials required for the commercial fishing industry.

Over the last year Edd has been involved in the management of end-of-life fishing gear and, together with a number of volunteers, has been trialling processes for collection from the quayside, subsequent dismantling and onward transport for recycling. Through this work he established that takes around 45-60 minutes to remove the polyethylene net from the rubber and metal parts of a single trawl, and dismantling ground gear and lines into its component parts can take up to 8 hours. There is not currently any reprocessing infrastructure within the UK, so once separated the plastic nets are transported to Plastix in Denmark. The rubber discs can be returned to the manufacturer for shredding and recycling and the ropes are often reused or also recycled.

Edd is currently working with Torbay Harbour, Torbay Cleaner Coast Initiative and Seafish to look at the costs and resources required to deliver an ongoing recycling scheme for Brixham; which meets the needs of local industry and delivers the infrastructure required to ensure end-of-life fishing gear can be more responsibly and sustainably managed.

Recently, Edd also turned his attention to the collection and management of steel warps – long two inch thick heavy cables. While steel cable has an inherent scrap value there are various challenges associated with collecting it as the warps are extremely long and heavy, making them unwieldly and therefore difficult to handle. Usually a forklift is required to manoeuvre them off each vessel, in a time consuming process.

Edd uses a winch capable of winding steel warp cables onto wooden drums, attached to a trailer to enable collection directly form fishing vessels on the quayside. By using a winch on a trailer, the cable can be wound onto drums for easier handling and transport. The flexibility of a portable winch also makes it especially useful for a quayside application, because it can be positioned right up to where a vessel is docked.

The winch system has proved extremely successful, enabling Edd to collect 25-30 tonnes of steel wire in five months and retain a small profit after operating costs when the steel is recycled. Edd has recently invested in the construction of a more high-powered winch that can more quickly both spool the used warps, as well as fit new warps onto vessels. He hopes that this will become a sufficiently profitable enterprise allowing him to move the service between ports and expand the reach of the scheme beyond Brixham, offering a simple solution to managing this part of end-of-life fishing gear.

Further info

Visit the Brixham Trawl Makers website

Find out more about initiatives tackling marine litter and end-of-life fishing gear