Say goodbye to bycatch: net design and electronics help anglers keep their catches clean
April 2, 2021
Watching hake and rockfish swim hard as they slide down the narrowed throat of a midwater trawl, it’s clear the net catches everything. But not everything belongs to the net. Alaska salmon, some Pacific rockfish, and Atlantic cod are some of the species that pelagic trawler captains try to avoid.
Under the banner of conservation genius, fishermen, regulators, marine electronics makers and net makers are working on a number of innovations – new bycatch exclusion designs, LED lights and cameras – that help pelagic trawlers to reduce bycatch.
âBycatch is the number one reason fishermen buy the system,â says Jason Whittle, vice president of Ocean Systems. According to Whittle, Ocean Systems’ SeaTrex is a simple yet rugged color camera that runs on a third wire and uses 1,500 lumen white lights and a wide-angle lens to help anglers see what’s going on in their nets.
âWith redfish, you have to see the colors to know which ones you are getting, and that requires white light,â says Whittle, noting that his business is focused on imagery. (Whittle offers a YouTube video of fish entering a net to attract curious anglers: tinyurl.com/seatrex.)
Whittle points out that all camera controls are preset when the device goes overboard in the net. This means that all the capacity of the third wire is used for transmission from the camera.
âOur cameras are very simple,â he says. “The less information you have about this thread, the better the picture quality.”
Keeping it simple makes cameras affordable and easier to maintain, says Whittle. âOur system costs less than $ 50,000,â he says. âAnd in the two years we’ve been selling them, we haven’t really had any service issues.â
Other marine electronics companies – including Simrad, Wesmar, and newcomer SmartCatch – are using cameras to monitor bycatch as well as the performance of escapement designs that use fish behavior to help salmon and others. cash to exit the net before it is transported.
Rob Terry, co-founder and CTO of SmartCatch, also touts the SmartCatch system’s pricing of $ 40,000. Responding to the needs of the fishermen he works with, SmartCatch has a mobile camera with adjustable lights.
âWe’re designing the next version so you don’t have to take it off when the net goes over the spool,â says Terry. The F / V Constellation in Alaska and the Excalibur out of Newport, Ore., Are among the ships using the SmartCatch system, and Terry is reporting good results.