More than 120 fisheries technology experts from 23 countries met this week at Shanghai's Ocean University, which hosted the 2019 meeting of ICES/FAO Working Group on Fishing Technology and Fish Behaviour (WGFTFB) under the theme "Responsible Fishing Technology for Healthy Ecosystems and Clean Environment".
Scientists shared findings of studies and field testing of many fishing gears and technologies. The topics discussed at this years' meeting included: abandoned, lost, and otherwise discarded fishing gears (ALDFG) and how to assess and reduce these, interactions with protected species in fisheries, the use of light in fisheries and its effects on fish behaviour, technologies to reduce bycatch and discards in fisheries, methods to improve selectivity of fishing gears, the latest technologies used in fisheries research and education, and energy saving technology developments in fisheries. A special session was dedicated to Chinese fisheries, its status, challenges, and opportunities.
The President of Shanghai Ocean University, Yudong Chen, officially opened the meeting, emphasizing in his welcome words the importance of developing fishing technologies that contribute to more responsible and sustainable fisheries. Recognizing the many students that attended the meeting, he added that the current generation of fisheries students will in the near future support fisheries science and management and will have key roles to play in making fisheries more sustainable.
Haraldur Einarsson, Marine and Freshwater Research Institute, Iceland and WGFTFB Chair, noted the importance of sharing experiences with experts in China, given that China's capture fisheries sector contributes nearly 20 percent to the worlds' capture fisheries production. Improvements that can increase selectivity and reduce bycatch in China's fisheries will benefit everyone. Einarsson commented, "Particpants learnt a lot about Chinese fisheries, both in terms of policy and all the types of fishing gear in use - it really boosts the idea of implementing some of this type of fishing in ICES areas as a way to mitigate bycatch."
Raymon van Anrooy, Senior Fishery Officer of FAO, stressed the importance of implementing the “Voluntary Guidelines on the Marking of Fishing Gear", which were adopted by the FAO Committee on Fisheries at its thirty third session in 2018.
A large number of interesting new research findings and examples from field tests of gears were presented. Examples included ways to systematically collect and recycle used fishing gear, options to reduce bycatch in trawl fisheries through modifications to the gears, fuel efficiency gains in fisheries through lighter gears, technologies to monitor fish behavior with underwater cameras on fishing gear, and many other innovations.
While many of the technological innovations would be environmentally sustainable and benefit the fisheries sector economically, the uptake by private sector fishers is often slow. The meeting discussed ways to speed up the transfer of suitable technologies to developing countries' fisheries sector, through joint projects, collaboration between research institutions and the private sector, demonstrations and pilots, as well as working together with early adapters, translation of manuals, and guidelines in local languages.
Find out more about the work of WGFTFB.
WGFTFBs work contributes to this science priority as they track the emergence of new technologies in marine industries and assess
how these technologies affect the interactions between those industries and
the marine environment.
Find out more about ICES science priorities here.
Participants at the 2019 meeting of ICES/FAO Working group on Fishing Technology and Fishing Behaviour.