Skip to main content

Fishers Driving Gear Innovation

Incentives provided by the Quota Management System have been key in driving fisheries research, a new report says.

The Interim Report of the ICES-FAO Working Group on Fishing Technology and Fish Behaviour (WGFTFB) is a comprehensive summary of a five-day meeting held in April 2017.

A section on bycatch in New Zealand, co-authored by Fisheries Inshore chief executive Dr Jeremy Helson, consultant Richard Wells and Southern Inshore Fisheries Management chief executive Carol Scott, said legislation provided a significant emphasis on reducing seabird captures, marine mammals, including pinnipeds, and dolphins species.

“Incentives driving development and adoption of gear technology to reduce bycatch in New Zealand include seeking certification under the Marine Stewardship or similar ‘ecolabel’, an increased focus on environmental impacts, and the NZ Fisheries Act and Wildlife Act for protected species,” the report said.

Direct investment from Government dwindled over time, with industry proactively taking the lead and investing in new innovation and fishing technology, the authors said.

The Hawke’s Bay inshore trawl fishery has been a leading example where industry-led innovation is making considerable progress in gear technology, with fishers taking it upon themselves to develop ideas.

The gear trials were specific for a mix of local target species, which includes gurnard, tarakihi and a range of flat fish.

“The use of 4” T90 mesh in the codend, combined with a 4” square mesh lengthener was highly effective at reducing catches of small gurnard (less than 30 cm) (61 percent reduction, p <0.05), without affecting on catches of fish greater than 32 cm,” a Hawke’s Bay gear technology group said in the report.

“For other species, including gurnard and red cod the reductions in catches were significant across a large part of the marketable length range, although the skipper can target these species more effectively using different panels.

“While the volume of catches is substantially less than from standard mesh codends, the improved quality and provenance of the product is achieving significant premiums from both a loyal local and a discerning global market.”