Bycatch reduction - Kon’s Covered FisheyesKon’s Covered Fisheyes installed in the net of a vessel in the Northern Prawn Fishery has reduced bycatch by up to 40%, with less than 2% prawn loss and is set to halve on-board processing time. Skipper Jamie Ball, who trialled it in June and November, tipped it as having the same far reaching success as TEDs did in the last decade.
Image: Jamie Ball, Skipper and Adrianne Laird, NPFI. Photo credit Charlie McKillop, ABC

In 2015, Raptis net-maker Kon Traintopoulos modified a fish eye BRD, “Kon’s Covered Fisheyes”, with the ambitious aim of reducing bycatch by 30%. After initial industry trials in 2015, NPFI in collaboration with Raptis, Tropic Ocean Prawns and AFMA, conducted scientific trials of the device on-board the NPF vessel Xanadu. The trials were intense with the crew and AFMA staff separating each net and measuring the catch to compare a net with a conventional square mesh panel BRD and a net with the Kon’s Covered Fisheyes. The hard work paid off with the new device achieving a bycatch reduction of up to 40% with minimal prawn loss.

Xanadu skipper Jamie Ball was nervous at the start of the trial believing that too many prawns would be lost through the new fisheyes. But after the initial 25 to 30 shots, they measured up to 40% reduction in bycatch and less than 2% prawn loss.

Kon’s Covered Fisheyes is two triangular aluminium frames with cone inserts. These are positioned in the net, one in front of the other, with the opening of the cones facing the bottom of the cod end creating a pressure void in the water flow. Fish are attracted to this area of low flow and then escape through the device. There’s also the potential for increased productivity – on-board processing may be halved and the prawns better quality.

“No skipper likes change. If they know something works, it works, they don’t like to change. We’re all the same. But I’m willing to give it a go. I trialled it in June and it worked well and I’m willing to give it a go again in all my nets”, Jamie Ball said. (which he did do during the tiger prawn season and also had AFMA staff on-board doing an additional 2 weeks of scientific trial in November to add to the data collected in June)

“If we can reduce bycatch we don’t have as many people trying to stop our fishery and make it hard for us to fish.” Jamie is convinced that just like TEDs in 2000, that Kon’s Covered Fisheye will become widespread in the industry.

Adrianne Laird, NPFI’s Project Officer said “You can’t get a better endorsement than a skipper not wanting to give them back at the end of a trial. We’ve had a lot of interest from other skippers wanting to use it because of the results”.

Image credit: Kon’s Covered Fisheye, Charlie McKillop, ABC