Cod Escape NAFC Net

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An innovative experimental trawl net designed to reduce bycatches of cod has shown very promising initial results in trials carried out by the NAFC Marine Centre UHI.

Cod have become increasingly abundant in the northern North Sea over recent years which has proved challenging for fishing vessels which often encounter high catches of cod when targeting other species. The experimental net designed at the NAFC Marine Centre includes a specialised escape panel which can be fitted to standard demersal trawls. The design takes advantage of the natural behaviour of cod and aims to selectively allow cod to escape from the trawl without reducing catches of other commercially important species.

The design concept was scientifically tested this winter on Shetland fishing grounds using NAFC’s fishing vessel Atlantia II. By comparing the catch with that from a standard control (unmodified) net, analysis has shown very promising initial results indicating that the escape panel is highly selective and effective. The results showed a significant reduction in catches of cod with the experimental net, while the catches of other commercially important species were not affected.

Dr Chevonne Angus, Joint Head of Marine Science and Technology at NAFC commented that “the purpose of the initial trials was to test the design concept and our results have shown that the design shows considerable potential. The results indicate that there would be merit in scaling up and trialling this with larger vessels and gear. Applied fisheries research, in support of the local industry, remains a key focus of the NAFC Marine Centre”.

The NAFC Marine Centre hopes to carry out further trials of the new net design in the future.

Further details of the trials including the project report are available on the NAFC website at: www.nafc.uhi.ac.uk/research/cod-escape-panel/ .

For further information please contact Dr Shaun Fraser (shaun.fraser@uhi.ac.uk , 01595 772000)