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A CRISP approach to sustainable fish capture

CRISP is a centre for research-based innovation established to develop smarter technologies to meet future challenges for a sustainable and economically viable fishing industry.

Trawling and purse seining are among the most important harvesting technologies, although tarnished by by-catch, wasteful discard practices, damage to demersal organisms and habitats and to some extent reduced quality of the fish products due to suboptimal handling of fish during capture.
The purpose of CRISP (Centre for Research-based Innovation in Sustainable fish capture and Processing technology) is to establish a platform for cooperation where scientists, fishermen, fishing gear manufacturers, and electronic instrument producers will work together to solve these challenges.

Research and solutions

Future trawl solutions will include better monitoring of the capture process combined with active manipulation of gear performance during fishing, in order to release non-target fish and to optimize fishing efficiency. The goal is to develop integrated solutions that will involve real-time camera observations and automatic release systems, as well as mechanisms to adjust gear performance, e.g. adjustment of depth and spreading efficiency of trawl doors during trawling. Off-bottom trawling is an obvious solution to reduce bottom impact, and therefore future trawl concepts that have no or only minor bottom contact will be developed (Figure 1).

A major challenge in purse seining is to determine the quantity, size, quality and species composition of the fish prior to shooting the net or in an early phase of pursing. In CRISP electronic fisheries instrument producers will work in close cooperation with researchers  to develop the next generation ofacoustic instruments that may facilitate identification of catch at an early stage. . After the catch has been encircled by a purse seine, acoustic sounders or optical instruments may be used to identify species and size distribution as well as density. It is also essential to develop purse seine net constructions that facilitate quick and gentle release of unwanted catch without harming the fish (Figure 2).

Photo: Trude Thangstad

Fish products harvested by any fishing method need to meet quality and eco-labelling standards to be competitive in a global market. Capture-based aquaculture (CBA) technology represents a potential solution to such challenges, and will therefore be addressed by this initiative. An impact evaluation of introducing sustainable harvest-ing technologies and improved fish quality will also be done  within the frames of CRISP.

Coordination needed

The complexity of the fishing processes and their interaction with the environment require intelligent solutions to meet future demands for acceptable harvesting practices. Sector-based industries and research groups alone are not optimal for developing equipment and processes that can meet these new requirements. By coordinating leading research groups and relevant industry partners, it is envisaged that innovative solutions can be found and developed to commercial products that will bring the harvesting practices into a new acceptable and responsible era. Such innovations may give the Norwegian fishing industry trade benefits at the global market.