Project Aims to Catch Clean Royal Red Prawns

15th January 2014

Harrissons Dogfish and Southern Dogfish are part of a group of sharks called Upper-Slope Dogfish or Gulper Sharks. Over a number of years — in line with the objectives of the Fisheries Management Act — AFMA has put a series of closures in place to protect Gulper Shark. These closures are equivalent in area to about 25% of total Gulper Shark habitat available in the fishery.
SETFIA has applied for a scientific permit and research allowance to enable a vessel from the Commonwealth Trawl Sector to enter a Gulper Shark closure off Sydney to target Royal Red Prawns, using a bycatch reduction in the trawl that excludes Gulper Sharks from the net but allows Royal Red Prawns to be caught. Research scientists have called the device a Gulper Shark exclusion device or GED for short. A GED is an angled aluminium grid in the net that will deflect Gulper Sharks and other large fish up and out of the net unharmed, while the smaller Royal Red Prawns pass through to be caught. Underwater cameras will be used to understand how Gulper Sharks are ejected from the trawl net.
The project is partially funded by AFMA, but Sydney fisherman Vince Bagnato will provide his vessel the Francesca free of charge for the study. SETFIA Director and net-maker David Guillot will assist with the setup and fine tuning for the GED. The project is collaboration between SETFIA, Fishwell Consulting and AFMA staff.
Trials will take place between April and October this year during Royal Red Prawns season, and results will be reported and distributed towards the end of the year.