What’s going on here?
Trials for a new fishing technology are taking place that use light instead of fish bait. The method attracts scallops as well, meaning this could be a promising alternative to dredging.
What does this mean?
Scientists from Fishtek Marine have been working alongside fishermen trialling the use of LED lights in pots to catch crabs and lobsters. Surprisingly, this method appears to work for scallops as well. Fishermen pulled up pots full of scallops in an exciting and unexpected discovery.
This has triggered a new set of trials using pots modified especially to catch scallops, aptly named ‘scallop discos’!
Why should we care?
Using fish bait contributes to overfishing, and makes the supply chain inefficient and wasteful. This new technology eliminates the need for fish bait as molluscs are drawn into the traps using LED light.
The inclusion of scallops in these trials is of particular interest. Scallop fisheries are the fourth most commercially valuable in the UK, but at the huge environmental cost of dredging. Scallop dredging boats drag heavy mobile gear along the seafloor, taking all sorts of important species and habitats with it. This damages valuable carbon stores such as seagrass and the seabed, releasing carbon dioxide back into the ecosystem.
The current sustainable alternative are scallops hand-picked by scuba divers, which is very expensive and labour intensive. The scallop discos present a low-impact and economically viable alternative.
Some sources are dubbing this as ‘guilt-free’ scallop fishing which is misleading. Pot fishing still holds risks to marine habitats such as corals, sponges, and sea fans. Always be mindful of the ethical and environmental implications of consuming animal products.