7/ Interviews with friendly fishermen
Updated: May 6
After sharing some posters, titled, 'Calling all Fishermen'. To my surprise I actually got 2 respondents! Mario and John, both got in contact with me, curious to find our more about my project and how they could help! This was the moment I had been looking for for a couple of weeks now, so I was very glad and excited to see where getting in contact with the fishermen would take me. I am fully prepared to use the 'three why's' and dig deep into the details of fishing practice to gain some insights!
I held a short phone interview with each of them, which was conversational and covered some questions I had pre-organised to ask them. The questions covered a general overview of fishing practice, as I am still unaware of the direction my project will follow.
Have a look at what topics were discussed:
1. What is your role on the vessel?
2. What location do you fish in?
3. What do you primarily fish for?
4. What is the ground terrain typically like?
5. What is your average quantity of catch?
6. Where do you purchase creels? How much does one creel cost?
7. For what period of time are creels left out?
8. How common is loss of equipment and what is most commonly the cause?
9. Do you attempt to retrieve lost creels?
10. How does loosing equipment effect your vessel/business?
11. What is the average lifespan of your equipment?
12. Does deterioration of equipment effect fishing performance?
13. What happens to old creels/rope that are past their best?
14. How many creels do you have out on a single line?
15. Do you catch your own bait?
16. What bait do you most commonly use?
17. Where is the bait sourced?
18. Do you receive a lot of bycatch?
19. Would you consider using a new piece of equipment; if it was less harmful to marine life and the environment? (e.g. if a creel was lost)
20. Would you consider using new equipment, if it was made possible to safely and effectively retrieve it, if lost at sea?
21. Would you consider attaching a GPS to your pots to track them for accountability?
(to report lost/ to try and recover/so creels aren’t placed in same location)
John - Prawn fisherman
The first phone interview was with John, a Prawn fishermen from Tavyallich, located on the West Coast of Scotland. John is the skipper and owner of his vessel and typically fishes on Loch Sween - a few miles from Tayvallich. Chatting to John I gained an initial insight into the life of a commercial fishermen. Some things that stood out to me from our conversation, were:
- He uses salted Herring as bait, sourced from Ireland.
- He rarely looses a pot (due to a ban on trawling in Loch Sween 3 years ago).
- He puts out 20 creels on one line, allowing his pots to get into tight spaces in the loch.
- To my surprise, he puts out 500 pots a day!
- Admirably he pays a recycling company to dispose of his old equipment, rather than it going to landfill.
- Him and other fishermen never reach maximum quota/catch allowance due to overfishing.
- Prawns burrow into muddy ground, so creels need to remain out long enough for them to come out of the seabed and into the creel. This is typically overnight, maximum 2 nights.
- John has no crew and runs the boat himself.
Mario - Prawn fisherman
Secondly I spoke to Mario, skipper of the vessel (pictured below), although does not own the vessel. Mario is also from Tavyallich, and fishes for prawns, off the sound of Jura. Mario' phone conversation was extremely insightful as he fishes on a larger scale in open waters and stated that he often looses fishing equipment. This meant that I was able to chat to him in greater detail surrounding the circumstances of loosing equipment.
- Mario puts out 900 prawn creels per day and has 100 on each line, which was surprising, as such a large quantity, but thew larger boat and crew allows them to do so.
- Fishing off the sound of Jura, he fishes alongside lots of other prawn fishermen, and regularly has conflict between trawlers, trawling over their gear. Mario also discussed that the ferries passing can sometimes drive over the bouys accidentally, meaning the lines are snapped and the gear is lost.
- Mario explained the easiest way to retrieve lost creels, was to cast another 'fleet' of creels over the top of the lost creels, hoping they will snag and they can retrieve the lost creels. I was surprised at the successfulness of this method to retrieve creels, but both John and Mario mentioned it was successful if the creels had not moved location.
- He said he would be highly interested in a product that allowed you to locate lost pots, if they had moved location from the plotter on the vessel, (pictured below).
I really took a lot from the conversations with Mario and John and are going to be a vital element to my development of a product aiming to reduce ghost gear/disregarded fishing equipment from our seas.
Moving forward, I am going to research into tracking and location devices that may allow. equipment to be tracked. This may include, GPS and Sonar.
During the conversation with Mario he offered to welcome me onto the vessel for a day to experience the job first hand! This is definitely an offer I am going to follow up as I feel this would be extremely beneficial to my research! So look out for a future blog post on a fishing trip!