Steel skids attached to the mesh of scallop dredges ready for sea trials in Cardigan Bay. Image – Harriet Salomonsen
Scallop dredges can cause damage to the sea floor as the heavy chain bags that hold the catch drag along the seabed. This is also likely to put more strain on gear and increase fuel consumption of fishing vessels. Dr Hilmar Hinz with Ewout Costerus of Cyclone Marine Ltd. through SEACAMS has been developing a solution. By attaching sets of steel skids to the underside of the bag it is lifted clear of the ground, reducing damaging effects.
To test out the new system trials were conducted on the beach. Hard-boiled eggs were laid out on the sand to replicate marine life and the sled was towed through the eggy obstacle course. Far fewer eggs were crushed under the gear with skids, giving the first results that this could be a success.
The first sea trials have now been carried out thanks to Mark Roberts, Len Walters and their crew. All the data was collected successfully. This included data from tension loggers which recorded the load from the gear to compare skids versus no skids. The results will follow, and will be available on the fisheries and conservation science group website.