Tried and tested: the 3 benefits of the ‘guarding net’

The ‘guarding net’ is a simple net modification for use in trammel net fisheries that greatly reduces bycatch. In multiple tests carried out by the MINOUW project it has proven to be a simple and effective solution to the problem of discards.

Small scale fisheries need practical, affordable solutions


As fishers across Europe face up to the implementation of the Landing Obligation, the need to find practical, effective and affordable solutions to the problems of bycatch and discarding - especially in small scale fisheries - is becoming increasingly important.

In trammel net fisheries in Italy, Spain and Portugal, our tests have shown that the guarding net - meets all of these criteria.

Less discards and lower costs


There are three key benefits the use of the guarding net brings to trammel net fisheries:

1. In all our studies it resulted in a huge reduction in bycatch and discards.
2. It reduced costs - saving significant time in sorting and net cleaning, and reduced damage to the nets and the need for net repairs.
3. It is affordable, and it does not require the fishermen to modify their gear or techniques - the only modification needed is to the nets.

The guarding net can reduce discards by as much as 75%


We evaluated the performance of the selvedge in three different countries, and in three different types of fisheries:

1. Viareggio, Tuscany, Italy

Target species
Caramote prawns
 
What was tested?
Two experimental nets with 20 cm and 30 cm height ‘guarding net’ added, and one standard net, over 15 experimental fishing trials.
 
What were the results?

  • Adding the ‘guarding net’ can reduce discards by as much as 75% compared to a standard trammel net.
  • However, catch rates of the target species are higher with the standard net.
  • But the decreased sorting time, labour costs, and wear of the net compensate for the lower catches of target species.

Read the full results of our study here.

2. Catalonia, Spain

Target species
Cuttlefish
 
What was tested?
Two nets were tested over 10 working days: a standard net and a modified net with a ‘guarding net’ of 2.5 panels added below the footrope.
 
What were the results?

  • The amount of bycatch in the net with ‘guarding net’ added was only 25% of the amount produced by the standard net.
  • The nets with ‘guarding net’ added produced 32% higher catches of commercial species and, in the case of the target cuttlefish, as much as 95% higher
  • Reduced sorting times and improved durability of the trammel net provides clear economic benefits to fishers.

 
Read the full results of our case study here.

3. Algarve, Portugal

Target species
Sole
 
What was tested?
1.5 km of net alternating between standard net and net with a 3 panel ‘guarding net’ added. Tests were carried out over twenty fishing trips.
 
What were the results?

  • There were significantly fewer discards (45.3% and 31.8% less in numbers and in biomass, respectively) in the modified nets.
  • By-catch abundance and biomass were also less in the modified trammel net (57.7% and 80.4% less respectively).
  • However, the modified net resulted in a decrease of 46.1% in numbers and 38.2% in value of the commercial catch due mainly to differences in catch rates of the target sole species.
  • The modified nets offered significant time savings when removing bycatch compared to the standard nets.

 
Read the full results of our case study here.

An affordable, practical solution


The ‘guarding net’ is easy to adopt and can be wholly recommended for small scale trammel net fisheries. Its production and fitting is simple. It is more expensive than the standard nets, but the costs are not prohibitive.

Our experiments have shown that it can significantly reduce by-catch and discards of certain
species, and also reducing handling time and net damage, bringing additional economic benefits for fishers.

 

 

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