Developing and testing a computer vision method to quantify 3D movements of bottom-set gillnets on the seabed

Esther Savina*, Ludvig Ahm Krag, Niels Madsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Gillnets are one of the most widely used fishing gears, but there is limited knowledge about their habitat effects, partly due to the lack of methodology to quantify such effects. A stereo imaging method was identified and adapted to quantify the dynamic behaviour of gillnets in-situ. Two cameras took synchronized images of the gear from slightly different perspectives, allowing to estimate the distance from the observation unit to the gear such as in the human 3D vision. The sweeping motion on the seabed and the penetration into the sediment of the leadline of light and heavy commercial bottom gillnets deployed in sandy habitats in the Danish coastal plaice fishery were assessed. The direct physical disruption of the seabed was minimal as the leadline was not penetrating into the seabed. Direct damage to the benthos could however originate from the sweeping movements of the nets, which were found to be higher than usually estimated by experts, up to about 2 m. The sweeping movements were for the most part in the order of magnitude of 10 cm, and resulted in a total swept area per fishing operation lower than any of the hourly swept area estimated for active fishing gears. Whereas the general perception is that heavy gears are more destructive to the habitat, light nets were moving significantly more than heavy ones. The established methodology could be further applied to assess gear dynamic behaviour in situ of other static gears.
Original languageEnglish
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)814-824
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • coastal waters
  • environmental impact
  • fishing gear
  • gillnet
  • habitat
  • stereo vision


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