Many different types of fishing gear are used in Scottish waters and these can be divided into two groups: active gears include trawls and seines which move through the water and herd or surround the fish; passive gears include hooks, gill nets and traps which rely on attraction or the natural movement of fish to make contact between fish and gear. The main Scottish commercial gears are illustrated and described briefly.
The regulations controlling fishing gear design are described with links to current UK and EU legislation and explanatory leaflets.
The aim of regulating fishing gear design is to influence what size of fish is caught and to allow smaller ones to escape. This selectivity process and the factors affecting it are described.
Unless the escaping fish survive there is little justification for controlling gear design. Scottish scientists have studied survival of escaping fish.
Fishing gears are complex combinations/assemblages of netting, wires, spreading devices, weights and floats. Understanding how they perform in the hostile environment in the sea is important if the efficiency of the operation is to be optimised. We show how we measure the performance of fishing gears.
While fishing gears have the greatest effect on the fish populations they may also affect the seabed and the operations of other users of the marine environment.