German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)


Sustainable fishing methods on trial, Video Transcript

A joint research project by BfN and NABU with fishing crews from Schleswig-Holstein has led in the last few months to refinements to several types of alternative fishing gear. Sections of longline have been fitted with spherical floats to stop the hooks from reaching the sea floor and the bait from being eaten by bottom-living organisms. Research divers went down to work out the right configuration for the floats. They also did tests to pinpoint the ideal distance between the longlines and the sea floor. The crews now attach and remove the floats on board when the lines are spooled out and retrieved. Using the floats, and after trialling several different hook sizes, the crews were able to catch more cod. Keeping the lines and hooks off the bottom meant that far less bait was lost to shore crabs and other crustaceans living on the sea floor. Tweaks to equipment in live action like this help boost the yields from alternative fishing gear. And that is what is needed to make such alternatives a real match for conventional set nets. Kim Detloff: We are trying out two types of alternative fishing gear already in use internationally but not yet in the German Baltic Sea. One is an automated longline system that places baited hooks above the sea floor, mainly to catch cod and flatfish, and the other consists of jigging reels – an automated version of the jigging or pilking technique we know from sport fishing. The jigging reels went on trial in spring 2014. The automated systems cause baited hooks to jerk up and down in the water to attract fish. Once again they are mostly used to catch cod. In the research project, scientists go out with the crew and examine the catch right there on board. First they identify the species, then they weigh and measure the fish. The data they collect is used to learn more about the yield and effectiveness of the fishing method. The trials have shown that the new fishing gear is fit for use in working conditions in the Baltic Sea. So far, though, a problem is efficiency, with yields well below what can be achieved with set nets. That goes both for the jigging reels and for the trials with the longlines. Kim Detloff: The longline has been on trial here in Burgsstaaken since July 2014. That is nearly a year of fishing trials, and if we stop to take stock we have learned some important lessons in that time. What we don’t have yet is a system that is ready to replace set nets. In this project, BfN aims to develop ecosystem-friendly, sustainable fishing methods that are equally good for the environment and for fisheries. Further research and field trials are still needed. This BfN/NABU project has marked a major step in cooperation between the fishing industry, fisheries research and nature conservation.