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FISHERMAN AND SCIENTISTS WILL MODERNIZE FISHING gear for Pollock fishing

14 august 2020
WWF-Russia’s initiative is the basis for a joint project of the Pollock Catchers Association and the Polar branch of Russian research institute of fisheries and oceanography (VNIRO). Fishermen and scientists will develop a new sorting system for pelagic trawls that will significantly reduce the by-catch of juvenile pollock.
“This is not our first initiative to modernize fishing gear. Earlier this year, fishermen from the Northwest Basin and the Polar Branch of VNIRO completed a project to create a pilot model of a gentle bottom trawl for the cod and haddock fishery in the Barents Sea. The introduction of a new trawl model will reduce the negative impact of fishing on seabed ecosystems,” said Alexey Golenkevich, an expert with WWF-Russia.

This time, the task for scientists, fishermen, and ecologists is somewhat different. Juvenile pollock make up a significant part of the catch. On the one hand, this reduces the efficiency of fishing efforts. On the other hand, it is detrimental to the pollock population.

Without modernization of fishing gear, it is more and more difficult to solve fishery’s existing problems. That is why the selective trawl is the most effective solution to this problem.

“The solution to this problem is complex. It is necessary to take serious steps in the field of fishing regulation, to more clearly define the rights and obligations of observers on board and to establish a complete record of the catch,” said Konstantin Zgurovsky, Senior Advisor to the Sustainable Marine Fisheries Program of WWF-Russia. “On the one hand, this will allow juveniles to get away even before they get into the trawl, on the other, to make sure that everything that gets on board is processed. Unfortunately, the improvement of the monitoring system onboard vessels itself is not able to change the ratio of juvenile and mature pollock in the catch. Our ideas found support both in the Polar Branch of VNIRO and among the leadership of the Federal Fishery Agency. And we are grateful to fishermen and scientists for their support."

Since 2002, pollock harvesting in the Russian Far East has been carried out using pelagic trawl equipped with a special selective insert, which makes it possible to almost halve the by-catch of juvenile pollock. However, with an increase in the volume of the catch (more than 8–10 metric tons) and the speed of trawling, its selective properties sharply decrease and there is practically no release of live juveniles from the trawl. Now scientists have to develop a design that can significantly improve both the selectivity and survival of the released juveniles. They will not only prepare the relevant documentation, but also design and test a pilot model of the selective device.

For additional information please contact
Head of WWF Kamchatka/Bering Sea Ecoregional Office