Global fisheries have been hit hard by climate change and overfishing. And yet efforts to change consumer behavior and encourage corporate responsibility can only go so far.
Luckily, technological innovation can also play a part. SafetyNet, the winner of this year's Dyson Award, is a product that claims to reduce overfishing, offer better selection of fish species based on sustainability, and even reduce fuel use and impact on the sea bed in the process.
By inserting a set of reinforced rings into a trawl net (the system is retrofittable to existing trawls), SafetyNet ensures that openings remain open—even as the net is being dragged through the water—allowing smaller fish to escape before they are lifted to the surface. Because fish often can't see the trawl, and don't realize they are trapped, the rings are illuminated using either a battery pack or an integrated turbine that spins as the net trawls, charging the lights as it goes.
But the full SafetyNet system is about more than just escape routes for small fish. The system also raises the trawl net off the bottom of the ocean, meaning that fishing operations should result in much less damage of the sea bed—and should also reduce fuel consumption due to lower friction.
Finally, the system also segregates species based on their behavior under stress using a separator panel. Because cod, a particularly threatened species, swims down when trapped, the net system provides an escape route for these fish from haddock and whitting, which are in more plentiul supply.
Here's a video explaining how the whole system works together.