Saturday, 13 January 2018

Fishing gear transitions: lessons from the Dutch flatfish pulse trawl

For all of those interested in getting the low-down on what is proving the most controversial fishing issue of the day (providing some with a suitable distraction from the LO debate) here is the ICES paper on pulse fishing.

This paper focuses on the transition in the Dutch cutter fleet-targeting flatfish, from the conventional beam trawl to the pulse trawl fishing gear. In doing so, we explore the process of gear transition, presenting the challenges that fishers and policy-makers face. 

The pulse trawl technique represents a particularly controversial gear transition as it makes use of electricity, which has been banned by the European Union since 1988. However, it is seen by those developing it in the Netherlands as an important alternative fishing gear to the conventional beam trawl technique, which is becoming increasingly inefficient with rising fuel prices and well-documented impact on benthic habitats. 

By using a multi-level perspective on socio-technical transitions as the analytical framework, we explore the development of the pulse trawl and the interaction between different levels. We also discuss the influence of technology-push on its transition into practice and regulation. This paper demonstrates the importance of social dimensions in the adoption of new fishing gears and in doing so contributes to our knowledge on how technological transitions in fisheries can be managed.