Amity sets sail with eco-friendly trial nets

Setting sail: Gerald McAllister and Gareth Kemp from Marine Scotland oversee the
Setting sail: Gerald McAllister and Gareth Kemp from Marine Scotland oversee the

A PETERHEAD trawler has set sail complete with new revolutionary nets designed to reduce the capture of juvenile fish.

Jimmy Buchan’s Amity II set off last Tuesday equipped with the new nets, which have large holes in the top designed to free captured juvenile cod, haddock and whiting while containing catches of prawn.

Mr Buchan said that although the catch would lose some market value due to the number of fish escaping, the new design represented a fundamental change in North-Sea fishing as it ensured a fully stocked catch for next year.

It also means that Amity II can venture into normally closed waters.

He said: “There are other net designs intended to release juvenile fish in the way that this one does. But this one has a big hole in it and I have taken some convincing that it will work.”

Trails of the nets on trawlers owned by net manufacturers Gamerie Bay Nets have been successful, with an 80% reduction in the capture of young fish recorded.

Designer Michael Watt said: “Trials of the nets have been taking place since December. We have recorded an 80% decrease in discards. Fish under 20cm in length still present a problem but the nets have achieved a massive improvement. Nets can be modified to the new design, meaning the cost is lower than buying new ones.”

Representatives from Marine Scotland were on site at West Pier to electronically tag the new nets and monitor the boat’s location and the new nets’ success rate.

Jimmy added: “It’s taken me a while to get used to the idea. It’s against everything I’ve learned that you’d put a big hole in your net. In my experience, you’d get your backside kicked for that!”

But Jimmy and his six strong crew recognise that the new design is necessary to ensure fish will remain available for years to come.

Jimmy says that pressure from the EU to reduce over fishing in North-East waters, plus a general desire within the fishing industry to “go green” has convinced him that the new nets will work, representing the biggest “fundamental change” to net design that he has encountered in his 35 years at sea.