This project will investigate the potential to establish a new, commercially viable fishery that harvests king scallops using illuminated traps.
This project will investigate the potential to establish a new, commercially viable fishery that harvests king scallops using illuminated traps. In 2019, Fishtek Marine and a fishing vessel from Cornwall trialled the use of underwater lights to increase catches of brown crab. No notable increase (or decrease) in brown crab catch in these illuminated pots was observed.
That said, there was an unexpected phenomenon noted by the fisherman who observed an unprecedented increase in king scallop inside the pots. The scallop numbers caught were not quite commercially viable, however, consistently, over the period of a month, the increase in scallops caught by the illuminated pots was over 1,000 times what would ordinarily be observed in non-illuminated pots.
The funds awarded here will be used to investigate this exciting finding further. With input from fishers, pot makers and gear technologists, we will make and test two new trap designs specifically for retaining scallops attracted by light. This project will be the first of its type to explore the potential for an economically viable static gear fishery for scallops.
If successful, a static gear fishery for scallops would, 1) provide consumers (and distributors) an alternative to trawl caught scallops, 2) give coastal fishers an opportunity to engage in scallop fisheries, 3) introduce a new, high-value seafood product to national and international markets and 4) provide an opportunity for fisheries to co-exist with other sea-bed users.