• Kim Burke

5/ A little investigation...

Updated: Jan 29, 2020

Lets talk about by-catch. When I began researching into ocean sustainability issues, I was automatically drawn towards ghost gear and disregarded fishing equipment as it was something that had received a lot of media attention recently, due to the increase in recent years. I was not aware that by-catch was just as pressing an issue.

I discovered the project 'Safety Net' developed by Dan Watson whilst at Glasgow University, studying Product Design Engineering, and later developed at the Royal College in London.

The product has been further developed, by Watson making his own company, Safety Net Technologies.

Check out his work here:

His project captured my eye, as it was a different route and was primarily focused on sustainable fishing methods. This project focused on limiting the quantity of by-catch (catch that was unintended) to limit the amount of waste and unnecessary death of millions of tonnes of fish. According to Watsons research, every year, fishermen return over 7 million tonnes of lifeless, unmarketable fish to the sea. This can be due to the time period the fish are out of water, or handling of the fish on board the vessel. The problem occurs as many current fishing techniques are not selective, leading to juvenile and endangered fish being caught along with more marketable ones.

In short, the project created by Dan allowed small fish to exit the fishing net, during the trawling process through LED rings at the base of the net. This meant that larger fish could not escape, and therefore fishermen received a more desirable catch. This can be seen in the image below.

Dan later set up his own company, Safety Net Technologies (SNTECH), which has developed the technology further, focusing on colour patterns within LED lights on fishing nets, to attract and repel different species.

'Safety Net aims to combat overfishing and bycatch, through LED rings on fishing nets, designed to allow smaller, unwanted fish to exit the net. Experiments have shown that is has reduced by-catch up to 90%.'

“This tangible technology approaches a serious environmental problem, we should celebrate it. "SafetyNet shows how young graduates like Dan can tackle global issues ignored by established industries in new and inventive ways.” - industrial designer James Dyson.

You can check out what they are currently working on here:

"SafetyNet designs, builds, and tests light emitting devices to increase the selectivity of commercial fishing practices, making the industry more sustainable." -SNTECH

This project inspired me to reach out to Dan, CEO of SNTECH, and speak to him regarding what their aims are, gain a greater insight to sustainable fishing methods and run some of my current project ideas past him. I contacted Dan on the 4th of October and held a short interview with him over the phone. Even though this company is not directly related towards the topic area it was extremely insightful and he was very helpful, providing me with organisations and individuals to contact!

Some contacts he gave me included:

- Kara Brydson from Fisheries Innovation Scotland

- Ghost Gear Foundation

- Blue Ocean

- Seafood Traceability Alliance

My next steps will entail researching into the contacts he suggested and seeing where they may take me. I am especially interested in getting in touch with Kara Brydson as she addresses new technology and innovation onto the market to support sustainable fishing practice.

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