By Tom Catchpole, Cefas
This week we unveiled the new and improved online gear selectivity tool, which is an exciting moment for the Gearing Up team. Since launching in 2017, we’ve been working hard to gather feedback from stakeholders across Europe, asking them about the tool’s functions, data and ease of use. We’ve had positive and constructive feedback from skippers, net makers, scientists and NGOs and now we’re able to share a tool that has more trials (including trawl graphics), an improved data display (so users can see the results for multiple species) and an online form which allows different organisations and institutions to add their own trials.
Watch the short video below to see what’s new.
Over the past year, we have been presenting Gearing Up at key events such as the Seafish Discard Action Group, the international marine technology conference MARTEC18 and the ICES and FAO Fishing Gear expert meetings. This wider engagement has been valuable in helping to spread the word about the tool and what it can do, as well as gathering valuable feedback from experts in the industry.
The task of transferring over 100 trials into a common (and digestible) format that is accessible to fishermen, has not been easy! In many of the publications and reports on gear trials, results were displayed in different ways, so finding a standard way to present them was challenging. This highlighted how difficult it is for fishermen, scientists and managers to compare different fishing gear designs and how they perform, even when they have access to the reports. Going forward, this is a message we intend to share with the scientists and managers working in fishing gear technology research.
What to look out for
One of the key enhancements included in this week’s launch is the new online form which gives scientists (or anyone who has worked on a formal gear trial) the ability to update the tool independently with their latest trial. We hope this new function will help to facilitate knowledge-transfer between fishing fleets so new initiatives on gear developments can be shared more efficiently. Please get in touch if you have been involved in/or have worked on a selectivity trial and you would like to see it in the Gearing Up tool.
We are also keen to expand the geographical range of the tool, so please get in touch if you are from further afield!
In the future
The Gearing Up team will always be looking for ways to progress and improve the tool as there is still a demand from fishermen for easily accessible and useful information on selective fishing gears – particularly now the full implementation of the Landing Obligation is just around the corner. The discard ban poses a major challenge for European fishermen and optimising the selectivity of fishing gears will provide some of the solutions and is a vital step to ensuring sustainable fishing and a prosperous fishing industry.
All of our work at Gearing Up is based on the belief that the more the tool is used the more useful it will become. We are proud of the progress we have made so far, and we are determined to build on that in the years to come.