Adding new sections of mesh to the sides of pelagic trawls has been such a success during the albacore tuna season that Swan Net Gundry is now busy with orders for the same type of gear for trawls used in the herring, mackerel and horse mackerel (scad) fisheries.
There has been highly positive feedback from seven vessels fishing with SNG gear during the current Bay of Biscay tuna season, and the addition of these extra netting panels to close off what had previously been escape routes has been very successful, without altering the configuration of the gear.
Gaps in the wing areas of pelagic trawls can vary from 30 metres up to 250 metres, and SNG’s designers have addressed this problem by developing versions of these ‘closed sides’ trawls for both single and pair trawling.
The pair trawl variant have the side sections filled out with extra mesh, finished with a short side rope to give the trawl its conventional finish, while the single boat version has the extra mesh and the wing-end arranged to accommodate two extra bridles, going from two to four bridles each side, closing off a large area of potential escape routes.
Both options can be used for either single or pair trawling, as pair trawl teams can see the benefits with using the extra bridles in their standard setup will still remain user-friendly when passing over the lug ends of the bridles from one vessel to the other.
According to the feedback from skippers working with these new rigs, the additional wing panels have provided more gear spread, without the two towing vessels having to increase their distance apart.
‘The smaller marks of fish that we used to see on the monitors but then miss in the trawl are now being picked up due to the built-up wing sections,’ one skipper commented.
‘These new wing and bridle set-ups are particularly advantageous in strong tides or when the vessel is turning as there is no longer any loss in the spread.’
SNG’s gear designers had predicted that this new concept would result in significant improvements in the trawl performance and catch success rates, and they have been proved right by the catch rates during this year’s albacore tuna season. Now the company’s net loft is busy with orders for more than 15 trawl so far, all from top pelagic and polyvalent vessels from Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Shetland.