Tor Inge Larsen’s lost shrimp trawl being brought aboard clean-up vessel Liafjord. Image: Fiskeridirektoratet

A shrimp trawl worth NoK200,000 (€20,150) retrieved during the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries’ latest clean-up cruise has been reunited with its owner, Brønnøysund fisherman Tor Inge Larsen.

He trawls for shrimp with the 15 metre Lyngvær for part of the year, alternating this with seine netting for groundfish. The shrimp gear was lost in February last year, and in spite of repeated attempts to retrieve it, the trawl stayed on the bottom and was reported as lost to the Directorate of Fisheries, to be added to the database of lost gear.

This year’s clean-up cruise began in Bergen with Liafjord, picking up gear reported lost by fishermen along the coast north as far as Tromsø. So far, ropes, nets, lines and trawl gear have been retrieved and Liafjord is now heading for crab grounds in the Barents Sea to continue its retrieval work up to late September.

The lost shrimp trawl being put ashore on the quay in Brønnøysund. Image: Fiskeridirektoratet

‘Then we head south again towards the Greenland halibut grounds. This year’s main focus areas are related to picking up reported losses from the Fugløy Bank and south to Møre,’ said cruise director Gjermund Langedal.

He said the Norwegian system of interaction between fishermen and administration puts Norway in the lead when it comes to reporting loss of fishing gear and subsequent clean-up.

‘Experience shows that some lost gear is very poor in terms of ghost fishing. To prevent lost fishing gear contributing to the pollution of the sea and eventually the spread of microplastics, it is very important that anyone who loses gear, or has knowledge of such gear, should report to the Coast Guard.’

He added that some gears are less easy to recover. Trawls and seine nets are often caught fast and getting them back can be a challenge, as was the case with Tor Inge Larsen’s shrimp trawl.

‘We had to have several tries before we could get a purchase on it. A trawl door had probably got stuck in the muddy bottom and we needed to pull hard to free it. Fortunately with Liafjord which has been leased for this year’s cruise, we have that capacity,’ Gjermund Langedal said.

‘There was a misunderstanding, so it wasn’t lifted last year. But it wasn’t urgent. A shrimp trawl does not ghost fish in the same way that a lost gillnet does. But it’s important to get lost gear off the seabed and when we can combine this with a fisherman getting his gear back, then we have a good result.’

Tor Inge Larsen said that the shrimp trawl was quite new when it was lost, and only minot repairs are needed for it to be ready for use again.
‘The trawl is almost whole. It’s unbelievable that we got both the trawl doors and the trawl itself virtually undamaged. I am delighted with the assistance from Liafjord and the Directorate of Fisheries,’ he said.

‘We know that the Directorate runs these trips, and it is of great help to us that we can get help to have gear returned. It’s an advantage both for the environment and for the shrimp grounds that the trawl is now off the bottom,’ Tor Inge Larsen said.