Most of the developments that have occurred in reducing bycatch from penaeid trawling have concerned modifications to the codend - using various configurations of grids, panels and meshes. Very little work has focused on developing selective modifications anterior to the codend and especially in front of the mouth of the trawl. By stopping fish from entering the net at all, we will be negating any escape mortalities that may be incurred by fish being herded throughout the length of the net and released through grids and panels at the codend. The result will be greatly enhanced survival of fish that occur in trawl grounds.
This project represents a major opportunity for Australia to develop a collaboration with the Danish group while examining the potential of what is currently regarded as the next most innovative and novel approach to reduce bycatch in trawls.
New South Wales (NSW) Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Fisheries Conservation Technology Unit (FCTU) has led such work with prawn trawls in Australia. Another group based in Denmark (the Danish Technical University's team in Hirtshals – DTU Aqua) has grown to be among the European leaders with similar work directed at Nephrops and fish trawls and is a major centre for work being done to underpin the European ‘landings obligation’ (often termed the ‘discard ban’). The current project took advantage of a travel grant for a PhD student at DTU Aqua to: (i) establish a link and exchange of ideas between the Australian and the Danish teams; whilst (ii) exploring ways of refining anterior-trawl modifications to reduce bycatch in our prawn fisheries.