Industry-led fishing gear development: Can it facilitate the process?
In the reformed technical measures regulation, the European Union proposed a greater involvement of the fishing industry in the different managerial aspects of fisheries. However, having the industry as a main actor in gear development presents a new suite of challenges. The industry, while addressing an issue in the fishery, can modify several aspects of a fishing gear simultaneously, without considering that some of those changes might have opposing effects. Here we present a case study where a codend, with several modifications, was developed by the industry for the Baltic cod trawl demersal fishery. Our results, based on cumulative catch distribution, catch comparison, and usability indicators, showed that the industry can successfully develop gears with more suitable catch profiles than the one currently used. However, one modification to the codend, the increased circumference, had the opposite effect than expected by the industry. Having the industry as the main driver in the development of new fishing gears can facilitate the development of a larger number and more specialized technical solutions. However, an early and continuous involvement of scientists in the process is crucial, as it ensures that unnecessary and adverse modifications are not made to the gear.