Efficient and low impact gear in the Danish fishery for industrial species (GUDP Tobis) (38849)

Project Details


The aim of the project was to ensure the future of the Danish industrial fisheries in the increasing demands for reduced environmental impact. The Danish industrial fisheries amount to around 800 million DKK a year in first value. The industrial fishing for sandeel, was seen threatened by a potential ban against bottom trawling in the main fishing areas at Dogger Bank in the North Sea, due to appointment of a large Natura 2000 area by UK, the Netherlands and Germany were bottom trawl could be considered to affect the conservation status of the sand habitat negatively. In addition profitability was threatened by the high vessel operating cost, considering fuel prices at the time.

The objective was to develop and document a fishing method for industrial fisheries (sandeel, Norway pout and sprat) where the trawl doors don’t have bottom contact and where modern materials are used in the gear and for the wire. Thus, compared to traditional gear, an overall energy saving of minimum 30% on each kg fish caught was expected, and also the damages on the benthic fauna was expected to be reduced or eliminated.

The new pelagic gear was constructed according to specifications. It behaved as intended and could easily be operated on Dogger Bank. The new gear consisting of pelagic doors and Dynema equipped trawl has attracted considerable attention among fishers and can be considered a business success. Catch volumes (tons/hour) did not differ between the experimental and standard trawl under parallel fishing. Sandeel behavioral differences could not be identified from sonar and UV-camera recordings, and size and oil content of sandeels was not systematically different between the two gears. Calibration experiments demonstrated 24 % lower fuel consumption in the new trawl.

Bottom surveys were carried out annually from 2012 to 2014 in the North-eastern part of Dogger Bank (in the Dutch/NL EEZ) at approximately 35 meters depth. Sediment analyses showed a grain size composition dominated by fine sand mixed with small amounts of gravel, whereas fine particles comprises 1 % maximum ideal as a sandeel habitat. Grain size composition was not altered by trawling or time.

Bottom impact with new gear is estimated to be 30 % reduced compared to a similar trawl using conventional doors. Based on the side-scan sonar recordings it was not possible to distinguish differences between the two trawl types in sediment depth penetration. The foot prints left by both sandeel trawls in one year were not discernible in subsequent years. Results from the video record analyses showed especially conch and hermit crabs were more abundant soon after trawling compared to before impact. The sediment analyses revealed nearly 100 different invertebrate species many of which lives burrowed or tube building in the sand. Overall diversity did not differ significantly between transects trawled by the two gears and the non-trawled transect. Detailed analyses showed, however, that some species (fragile sea anemones, polychaetes and echinoderms) were less abundant after impact from the conventional trawl compared with the newly-designed trawl and the control transect. A few species were more abundant in the transect trawled by the conventional trawl, including some smaller crustaceans. These results suggest the newly-designed sand eel trawl has a lower impact on benthic fauna than the conventional trawl and we expect the final analyses will support these results.

The project is coordinated by DTU Aqua and funded by the Danish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries through the Green Development and Demonstration Program (GUDP).

Research area: Marine Living Resources
Research area: Fisheries Management
Research area: Observation Technology
Effective start/end date01/01/201205/01/2015