German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)


Towards sustainable fisheries Video Transcript

Fishing can do serious harm to the North Sea and Baltic Sea ecosystem. Commercial stocks are dwindling, and other species are netted as by-catch in large numbers. Fishing urgently needs to be made greener and more sustainable. One option is new or improved fishing gear, like this net developed by theThünen Institute. It lets juveniles of the target species and other fish species go free. The Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) and the Thünen Institute are testing and fine-tuning fish traps for cod in the Baltic Sea. These could become an alternative to gillnets and help stop endangered species ending up as by-catch. Scientists and the fishing industry are also breaking new territory in another research project. A problem in coastal fishing with gillnets is by-catch of harbour porpoises and sea birds. These get caught up in the nets and drown. The aim of the project – a joint effort started a year and a half ago by BfN and the conservation organisation NABU – is to develop, and to deploy in practice, alternative fishing gear that delivers similar sized catches to gillnets while avoiding incidental catch of harbour porpoises and seabirds. Together with fishermen from Schleswig-Holstein, NABU and BfN are testing the use of special longline systems to catch cod and flatfish. The system was developed by an Icelandic company. Chopped herring and sprat are usually used as bait. The lines are set fully automatically, with the hooks picking up bait from a special baiter. A longliner usually runs to as much as 4,000 m of line with some 2,000 hooks. The lines are brought back in the next day. Now the teething troubles have been fixed, the factors affecting yield today are season, location and depth of water, and also shrimps and snails pillaging the bait. Experience is shared in the quest for solutions and technical improvements. The system had to be specially adapted to the fishing boat for use in the Baltic Sea. The efficiency and environmental impacts of longlines are now being studied as part of the project to show they are ready for practical use. Researchers, conservationists and fishermen work hand in hand on various subprojects to achieve this.