Development and adoption of sustainable innovative gears

Published on
June 26, 2018

Many factors other than economic profitability play a role in the successful uptake of innovative fishing technology. This was demonstrated in different BENTHIS case studies spread over Europe, where we focussed on three main types of fishing gear innovations: from active to passive gears, from demersal to pelagic otter boards and from mechanic to electric stimulation. To successfully develop and adopt sustainable innovative gears, collaboration between fishers, scientist, gear manufacturers, policy makers and society is important.

For the development phase of gear innovations the involvement of the industry is necessary. This will warrant user-friendliness and will bridge the gap with current gears. It is also important to give the industry the means to think out of the box (allow testing of “illegal” gears). To develop gears that fit both the goals of policy makers as of the industry, objectives must be reconciled, for example a reduction in benthic impact will also lead to a reduction in fuel use, or the reduction in bycatch will reduce the sorting time.

The researchers identified economic, social, regulatory, technological and environmental drivers to be important. Economic factors include the fuel prices, the wage of the crew and how it changes with the new gear, and access to funding (subsidies or bank loans). Social factors that influence investment decisions in innovative technology are the sharing of information and the long term perspective on the future of the company. Technological factors are related to the possible constraints of the vessel to implement the innovation. Regulatory factors comprise for instance the room for experimentation, legal support, access to the fishery, better selectivity and tighter controls. Finally, environmental factors may stimulate innovations. For instance the criteria set by MSC may stimulate fishers to adopt more environmentally innovative techniques and the perception of fishers to fish more sustainably may be important for his self-image.


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