Sustainable fishing device wins UK James Dyson Award

Royal College of Art graduate Dan Watson has won the UK leg of the 2012 James Dyson Award with his SafetyNet design, which aims to promote sustainable trawler fishing.

The rings provide an escape route for young, unmarketable fish
The rings provide an escape route for young, unmarketable fish

The net solves the problem of young, unmarketable fish being caught in trawler nets and thrown back in the sea, by providing them with an escape route.

The design is built around a series of ‘escape rings’ that can be retrofitted into a fishing net. The rings feature a light, which acts as an ‘emergency exit’ sign, allowing young fish to escape.

The illuminated rings
The illuminated rings

Watson, who graduated with a joint MA in innovation design engineering from the RCA, says, ‘A key focus in the design of the escape rings is to make them as low-maintenance as possible.

‘The rings are illuminated, acting in a similar way to emergency exit signs for fish, making it very clear where the escape routes are. In addition to this, water-flow through the wide-open meshes guides the fish to freedom.’

The rings can be retrofitted to nets
The rings can be retrofitted to nets

Watson consulted fishermen at every stage of the project development, and says the design is set to be trialled in conjuntion with a UK Government body.

Watson will receive a £1000 prize for winning the UK leg of the James Dyson Award, and will go forward into judging for the international award. The winner of the international James Dyson Award will be announced n 8 November.

Hide Comments (8)Show Comments (8)
  • Dennis Brackley November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    The net idea. How daft, just use a larger net. Net with lights on it, even dafter. Not really thought through. Idea for ideas sake! Design without purpose. Rather silly.

  • Richard Gooch November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Only a daft idea if lit escape routes don’t attract small fish. Let’s see the results of the trial!


  • Ed November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Hope the idea works smoothly, the oceans are running out of crops.
    But hard to tell. I would avoid the light, for one simple reason: big fish will also try to go to the escape route, only to get caught in the hole, obstructing it and making it redundant… small fish will stay trapped inside.

  • Cod allmighty November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Trawling also destroys everything on the seabed from coral reefs to sunken artefacts by dragging the heavy weights along that hold the net open. This is also a huge problem with industrial scale fishing. The more farmed fish the better. Lets leave the wild ones in the oceans.

  • Cod allmighty November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Maybe the escape routes should have EXIT written in bubble writing this will also help guide the fish.

  • SHEILA DUFFY November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    well done & good luck.


  • Seafoods November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Cod allmighty, if you actually knew anything about trawling you would know that any fisherman who has paid thousands of pounds for a net isn’t going to tow it over ant reefs because it would tear the net to pieces. As for sunken artefacts they are ususly on wrecks, which no sensible fisherman would tow over because he would be risking his life – try asking the eco friendly divers you know about artefacts, they are the ones who steal them off wrecks.,

  • talk_jana November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Some comments here got me thinking….how many of you got an idea, presented it, got an award and still talking, hmm?
    I know nothing about trawler fishing, however I believe that Dan Watson spent substantial proportion of time researching the field to come out with a solution. I think we should celebrate ideas (good or bad) rather than criticize them.

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