Engineering a more sustainable future for commercial fishing
A prototype juvenile fish sorting system developed by UC Masters of Engineering student Stefano Barfucci as part of a NIWA-led project offers exciting potential as a way to reduce unwanted by-catch.
The prototype juvenile fish sorting system developed by Stefano Barfucci, UC Masters of Engineering student.
As part of a NIWA-led project aimed at developing new generation sustainable trawl gear, UC Master of Engineering student Stefano Barfucci has been exploring innovative ways to allow undersized juvenile fish to escape directly from the trawl net.
“I explored a number of different designs as part of this research, using 3D printing and laser cutting equipment at UC’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. I was also able to test some of the concepts within a flume tank at the university to simulate ocean conditions.”
The most promising concept was inspired by a cage system devised by Napier fisher Karl Warr. Stefano further refined that system to develop a practical lightweight prototype that can be fitted to traditional mesh netting. It uses flexible panels with rigid openings sized so that smaller fish can swim out. In tests off Napier, the prototype showed promise in being able to release juvenile gurnard.
While there is one precision fish harvesting system available, it can only be used on large purpose-built vessels; Stefano developed his system for use on any commercial fishing boat. “It is a cost effective, lightweight and robust solution that is easy to use.”