Yet to be commercially implemented, a new method for catching fish with trawl could reduce seabed damage and bycatch. It could even increase catch volume and reduce fuel consumption.
Trawling as a fishing method today has several challenges. They include high fuel consumption, seabed and trawl net damage, and difficulties in controlling a trawl’s course and depth.
Additionally, bycatch – the inadvertent capture of non-target species – is identified by the World Wildlife Fund as a serious threat to marine life and biodiversity.
To make trawling more sustainable, ECO Trawl has created a new concept for trawling.
The company plans to place powerful electric thrusters where traditional trawls have their doors – that is, where the trawl net opens. The electric thrusters, or propellers, will be able to control the trawl’s course and depth in the water, and thereby navigate more accurately.
Side and depth rudders will steer the propellers, along with a control system collecting sensory data. The electric power, meanwhile, will be provided by a generator onboard the trawler.
ECO Trawl is currently undertaking a feasibility study to determine how to achieve optimal manoeuvrability from the thrusters.
If successfully implemented, the ECO Trawl concept could provide a more efficient and environment-friendly trawl. Preliminary concept studies indicate it could increase reduce fuel consumption by over 20 per cent while being more selective and avoiding bycatch and seabed damage.
ECO Trawl could also increase catch volume from trawlers and lower greenhouse gas emissions.
ECO Trawl is intended for trawlers which today use trawl doors for midwater, or pelagic, trawling. This fleet currently counts about 6 500 vessels.
ECO Trawl was launched in June 2016 in Kristiansand, Norway, and is currently developing its concept into a commercial product. The company is founded on know-how from the drilling technology cluster in Kristiansand.