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Fishing Net Technology A Big Catch For New Zealand

posted 7 Oct 2013, 05:31 by Mpelembe   [ updated 7 Oct 2013, 05:31 ]

New commercial fishing technology from New Zealand may soon put an end to the global problem of bycatch, where non-targeted species are caught up in the nets of commercial fishermen. Called "Precision Seafood Harvesting", the technology allows smaller fish to escape while keeping targeted fish alive and fresher much longer.

AT SEA, NEW ZEALAND (RECENT) (PRECISION SEAFOOD HARVESTING) -  Known as Precision Seafood Harvesting, the PVC net technology is being hailed as a ground-breaking development that could change the face of commercial fishing.

Developed by a consortium of companies and the New Zealand Government, the technology is designed to eliminate by-catch and allow juvenile fish that are frequently caught unintentionally with traditional trawl nets to escape.

The Precision Seafood Harvesting net catches adult fish from targeted species, but is lined with holes that allow smaller fish to escape. The liner retains water as it's being hauled onto the deck, allowing the fish to remain alive and in better condition as they're taken to market, and the unwanted fish to be thrown back into the ocean, still alive.

"We can now target fish, exactly the species and the size of the species that we want to catch but what we don't want to catch stays in the water swimming," saidNew Zealand Seafood Chief Executive, Eric Barratt.

The new technology is the result of a ten year, NZ$53 million research project. Barratt says it's the biggest step forward in commercial fishing for 150 years.

"It's a very exciting innovation, I mean for a hundred and fifty years we've trawled fish and we've never changed. This changes the ball park completely," said Barratt.

As global demand for seafood has risen, so has concern of the impact of bycatch. Industrial-scale fishing is widely blamed for the decline of several species including sharks, dolphins, loggerhead and leatherback sea turtles and sea birds.

Apart from its benefits for endangered species, New Zealand fisherman Darryl Newton say that by keeping the fish alive on deck, the new technology allows for fresher fish.

"The colours of the fish are all still there. You get the nice bronzy colours through the hoki that you just don't see when they come up in the traditional harvest methods," said Newton.

"It will change the way the world fishes and ultimately we suspect there will be demands from governments and consumers to say, please catch fish this way," said Barratt.

The technology has been patented, although the overall research project is still four years from completion.

Barratt and his fellow investors are confident however that Precision Seafood Harvesting will eventually become the norm in commercial fishing around the world.