European NetTag project: Acoustic devices and autonomous robots to detect and remove fishing waste from the sea

ARVI, Spain and Europe’s largest fisheries association, is participating in the European NetTag project, which seeks to: reduce marine waste generated by the fisheries sector, recover “ghost nets” (fishing nets abandoned and drifting at sea) and train fishing professionals to manage onboard waste correctly.

The project, led by Portugal’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Marine and Environmental Research (CIIMAR), also features the participation of ARVI and Portuguese fishing professionals. Its first goal is to reduce the loss of nets and other fishing gear, through the implementation of acoustic location devices in the nets themselves –the devices will be developed at the University of Newcastle within the framework of the project–, and to develop autonomous vehicles to make the recovery of these nets viable.

NetTag also envisages analysing the environmental impact of fishing nets in order to evaluate their repercussions in different coastal areas of Galicia and Portugal. This will be done through controlled laboratory experiments.

The project will also feature a socioeconomic study to evaluate the cost/benefit ratio of implementing these devices. This study will be carried out at the University of Santiago de Compostela and the University of Aveiro.

The second goal of the project is to promote good onboard practices for the management of waste produced and/ or captured during fishing activities. For this purpose, the NetTag project, scheduled to be undertaken over the next two years, will work directly with fishing vessel crews in northeast Portugal and Galicia, implementing an integrated, innovative approach.

Also participating in the project alongside ARVI is Portugal’s Association for Greater Safety for Men at Sea (APMSHM). The two associations will carry out joint activities with the aim of highlighting waste management on fishing vessels