A new app helps skippers reduce bycatch A new app helps skippers reduce bycatch

An app used by Scottish skippers to share real-time information about the location of hotspots of unwanted fish has scooped a sustainability award.

The Bycatch Avoidance Tool using Mapping (BATmap) was developed by scientists from the University of Aberdeen, Chordata and the Scottish Fishermen’s Organisation and launched in June 2020. It is currently being used by 15 fishing vessels operating on the west coast of Scotland.

The Fishing News has recently named the app winner of its Sustainability Award. “I am delighted that BATmap has received this important industry award,” said Dr Tara Marshall, from the University of Aberdeen’s School of Biological Sciences. “We have been really pleased with the rollout on the west coast of Scotland and the feedback from skippers has been critical to the success of the app.”

For use on phones, tablets and computers, the app logs the start and end time of each haul, together which the total catch of cod, whiting and spurdog, which skippers wish to avoid. BATmap automatically collects information on vessel location, sending out alerts to all users when pre-defined levels of catch are exceeded in a specific location.

“We wanted to design a practical solution to the problem of mixed fisheries,” continued Dr Marshall. “To continue fishing healthy stocks, such as haddock and monkfish, effective bycatch avoidance measures for cod were needed.”

Any Scottish skipper fishing for whitefish on the west of Scotland can use BATmap providing they agree to contribute data.

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