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  • Kim Burke

8/ Concept Development

Updated: May 6

The insights gained from speaking with fishermen, turned out to be extremely insightful, and from there on my direction moved towards a concept focusing on location and retrieval.

My brief has now gained more of a focus towards locating lost fishing equipment with the prospect to retrieve it.


Bring forward a solution to reduce the abundance of lost or disregarded fishing equiptment, known as ‘ghost gear’, in our oceans. The product must be affordable and accessible for fishermen, whilst remaining effective for its purpose of allowing fishermen to easily locate and retrieve their lost equipment themselves.

Currently ocean waste is a high-profile topic, with many environmentally friendly plastic alternatives reaching the market, however ghost gear has proven to be far more harmful than a plastic bottle. Recently named the oceans silent killers, pots and nets, damage eco systems and marine life, through a vicious cycle of trapping and killing for decades. My research to date has shown that bad weather, tampering with equipment and damage from other water users are the main causes of loss of equipment. My aim is to create a design that allows fishermen to primarily locate and retrieve their lost creels safely and effectively.


Continuing my research from my past interviews with Dan Watson from SNTEC and local fishermen I have been in touch with several organisations and NGO's, all whom hold a common interest of cleaning up our ocean from ghost gear. I was actually incredibly surprised at the amount of action currently in place by NGO's, predominantly directed at diving to remove ghost gear from the ocean. An example shown below is from Healthy Seas, partnered with the Ghost Fishing Federation.



Recently I have been in contact with Phil Taylor, Head of Policy & Operations at Open Seas and Kara Brydson, Executive Director at Fisheries Innovation Scotland. Both individuals were great to chat to and re-iterated the demand for a designers perspective to come into the picture, rather than more and more volunteer organisations, which was reassuring.


Particularly they were interested in why I am focused on this topic and so I shared with them my experience with creel fishing growing up on the west coast of Scotland. Both individuals passed on contacts for me to get in touch with to further my research which was great. One of which being John Wheeler, Fisheries Liaison Officer at Fisheries Innovation Scotland, and also a Ghost Fishing diver and a commercial fisherman. I have a Skype call lined up with John next week to discuss current development which I think will provide great feedback.


Some images below demonstrate my current development within my sketchbook of concepts for the process of locating and retrieving lost creels at sea.


A strong focus and consideration in my sketchbook is how the creel can be identified, once the creel has moved location and lost its lines, perhaps due to gear conflict with other vessels, making it unidentifiable. A physical device such as a buoy/marker, to highlight the creels location, is a consideration, along with sonar tracking devices. Inspired by the function of an inflatable lifejacket, I have also considered an inflatable device to mark or retrieve creels.




The main barriers I am currently facing in my development, is a method of transmitting data within water, in depths up to 200 meters. I am exploring how sound and sonar devices can transmit data in this case; similar to the communication between whales and dolphins in the ocean. I am in regular conversation with Alistair Napier (Ali) from the make space in DJCAD, to develop a solution to make my design vision for locating lost creels possible.


Check out my next blog post next week to see where my development takes me...



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