Smartrawl: a solution to discards and bycatch in trawl fisheries (RD174)


This project will deliver an in-water sorting device for use with trawl gear which is expected to enable fishers to eliminate bycatch of unwanted fish, improving fishing efficiency and sustainability.

Funding Amount:


Duration of Project:

18 months

Project Summary:

Smartrawl is an eagerly awaited solution to wasteful and illegal fisheries discards and bycatch, taking the next steps in AI technology to allow skippers to retain only their target catch.

Trawl fisheries the world over cause discards and bycatch, where fish and other marine animals, respectively, are caught and thrown back overboard, mostly dead. This is because trawlers target different types of fish, some of which are wanted (above a certain size and for which fishers have quota), and some of which are not. Trawls are not selective enough to avoid this problem. Smartrawl will only catch the fish that fishers want, releasing other animals back into their natural environment.

Smartrawl is an in-water sorting device with three components: a stereo camera, taking images of animals in the trawl; a computer, with artificial intelligence to determine species and size of animals; and a gate, controlled by the computer to catch or release animals.

Smartrawl is designed with UK fishers and fits easily into the nets of all sizes of vessels: it needs no cables and the patented gate system works with the force of the water to rotate between open and closed states. Smartrawl will allow fishers to program their trawls to catch exactly what they want, according to market conditions and their quota, and have no bycatch.

Components of Smartrawl have been tested at sea with commercial skippers, and the next stage is to integrate the system and take the next step towards the sustainable future of trawling.

STATUS: Ongoing

Project Lead

Fisheries Innovation & Sustainability