A new smartphone app has been launched enabling the fishing industry to report bycatch including that of important or threatened species such as dolphins and porpoises, seals, seabirds, sharks, skates and rays.
AST Marine Science, part of Applied Satellite Technology, has developed the app for Clean Catch UK, a research programme bringing scientists and the fishing industry together to reduce the impact of fishing on sensitive marine species.
Less than 5% of commercial fishing activity is currently observed and fishing trawlers rarely have the space to carry observers or install monitoring equipment. “Small inshore fishing vessels are not typically monitored for accidental bycatch but fisherman do very often carry smartphones,” explained David Davies, managing director of AST Marine Sciences.
Currently in use in south-west England to conserve sensitive marine species, it is hoped that the app will eventually be used in other parts of the UK to help understand which wildlife species are more likely to be caught accidentally and to reduce instances of bycatch overall.
“More crews using the app means a more detailed picture about how to reduce bycatch across UK fisheries,” said Victoria Bendall, marine scientist for CEFAS and co-lead for Clean Catch UK.