WATERDANCE WORK WITH THE WFPO AND SEAFISH ON LOW-EMISSION GEAR TRIAL
January 14, 2022
The Western Fish Producers’ Organisation is a cooperative that represents vessels across England including 16 vessels from the Waterdance fleet. One of the key aims of the WFPO is supporting innovative sustainability projects, including most recently the Sumwing trial.
The Sumwing is a major innovation in beam trawl gear that has been designed to fly just off the seabed, reducing drag and therefore fuel use; this is particularly relevant for Waterdance as 12 of our vessels are beam-trawlers.
The Sumwing was designed and developed in Holland, it has an 84% reduction in seabed contact from the beam and showed a 9% reduction in fuel use when first tested, the UK trial is hoping to achieve an even greater reduction. The WFPO are now testing the Sumwing on south-western beam trawlers, working with Seafish gear technology experts who designed the trial and are performing the data analysis. The primary aim of this Sumwing trial, was to ensure the technology can feasibly be used on UK beam trawl vessels and to analyse any reductions in fuel consumption.
The Sumwing changes the traditional cylindrical beam of the beam trawl into a wing, similar to an aeroplane. The wing shape creates lift and lifts the wing off the seabed; it is designed to be towed or ‘flown’ just above the seabed. Additionally, seabed contact is reduced by only having one skid in the middle, instead of the standard two wheels or skids on either end of the beam. This has a number of potential benefits including the reduction of drag which will lead to decreased fuel consumption and costs.
This trial was designed to test the efficiency of the Sumwing on South-west beam trawler as they’d previously only been tested on Dutch and Belgian vessels. There are many differences between these vessels and their UK equivalents including: use of varying mesh sizes and lengths of nets, different amounts of tickler chains, varied towing speeds, operation on disparate substrates and mixed species caught. Therefore, it is important to assess the potential fuel savings and other benefits for UK trawlers.
The preliminary results of the trial have been positive with the Sumwing still operating well on the Margaret of Ladram. We’re looking forward to seeing the final results published by Seafish and seeing how they can support the wider beam trawl industry.