In the past 20 years considerable development has taken place in fishing gear design, driven by advances in technology or the need to maximise fishing opportunities. Rockhopper gears allow rougher ground to be fished, pair and twin trawls increase catching efficiency and low headline scraper trawls target ground fish (monkfish and megrim) and Nephrops more effectively. These and many other examples have increased the fishing power of traditional gears. Official statistics are slow to identify such changes as the new gears may continue to be classified under traditional categories for several years.
For more than 10 years scientists in Scotland have gathered information on the technical specifications of Scottish commercial fishing gears and because Scottish skippers tend to constantly evolve and develop their fishing gear, up to date accurate information is a vital component in formulating scientific advice.
To address a lack of detailed information on fishing gears used by Scottish demersal fleets which the official database does not provide, scientists at Marine Scotland have created a survey to gather information on current fishing gears. This information will be used to better inform Marine Scotland on trends and changes within Scottish demersal fleets:
This survey is intended as a follow on from the work carried out under the Scottish Industry Science Partnership and reported in Gatt and Reid 2007 (SISP Report 02/07). It aims to collect information on the fishing vessel, the main fishing method and details of the fishing gear being employed. The data will not be used in an individual vessel context but to provide overviews of the various demersal fishing methods deployed by each fleet in Scotland. Furthermore, if sufficient data is returned it will be possible to get a better understanding of the fishing gears used within each fleet. It should not be assumed that all vessels, within a particular fleet, have an equal fishing capacity. There can be major differences in fishing power between vessels within a fleet which may not be apparent from the official data and this is one of the issues which this survey hopes to address.