There’s a growing urgency to gather information about the effectiveness of pingers during Norway’s winter fishing season off the west coast, and there has been an ongoing discussion with the Institute of Marine Research, which wants the data, and the Directorate of Fisheries, which is also pushing for this to be done and is looking at options for funding.
‘The Fishermen’s Association’s ambition is to follow this matter further in order to find good and practical solutions for the fishermen and our members,’ said senior adviser Maria Pettersvik Arvnes at the Norwegian Fishermen’s Association.
At the end of last year the Institute and the Directorate held an online seminar, laying out the background to the initiative and the choice of the Lofoten fishery in 2023 for gathering information.
According to the Norwegian authorities, the backdrop to carrying out this work is warnings from the US of restrictions on nations not deemed to have taken sufficient precautions to minimise by-catches.
By introducing such measures with pingers in the west coast fishery, this would satisfy the US requirements.
The use of pingers has up to now not been enforced, but the Directorate is conferring with other branches of government to tighten this in future.
The Institute is planning to examine data from the coastal reference fleet for 2021 and 2022, and the Norwegian Fishermen’s Association has on several occasions made it clear that there is a need for a thorough evaluation before the 2023 season.
The Institute is seeking to work with netters fishing in the 2023 season to improve the data base of information by fishing two week periods with and without pingers, and then reporting by-catches. The intention is for the pingers to be supplied at no cost.
During the seminar before Christmas, several fishermen contributed their experience of using pingers, including that leaving them on deck in sub-zero temperatures tends to harm them, possibly due to water ingress.
It was also noted that pingers need to be rigged at intervals of not more than 200 metres on gillnets to ensure their effectiveness, and it’s not enough to mount them only at the ends of each net.
Main image: FiskTek Marine