Fishtek know, that to stand any chance of success and widespread uptake of our bycatch reduction technologies we have a very difficult set of rules to work by!

Not only do our products need to be effective at reducing the bycatch they were designed for but they have to be tough, durable, low cost, and have no impact on target catch or fishing operation. Failure in any of these key areas dramatically reduces the chance of success.

One of our biggest successes and indeed challenges to date was designing and manufacturing a technical solution to mitigate Seabird bycatch. Fishtek in collaboration with Hookpod Ltd designed and manufactured the hugely innovative hookpod.

Hookpod is designed to resolve bycatch of sea birds primarily albatross on baited pelagic longline hooks. Up to 100,000 albatross die each year on longline hooks and a number of key species of this iconic bird are facing extinction. Hookpod disarms the baited hook, sinks rapidly and automatically opens releasing the bait below 10m depth.

The key to a functional device was a low cost and reliable pressure release system that could cope with extreme pressures at 1000m depth. Using an expensive electronic system was never an option due to cost. A simple physical pressure release trigger was needed. A number of pressure release mechanisms and hookpod configurations were trialled over 8 years, working very closely with partners in the fishing industry and NGO’s.

The key was the development of a pressure release trigger that was reliable, immune to depth exposure and very cheap. After a number of trials – the brilliant minds of Fishtek Marine’s engineers developed an aqua flow trigger –  a piston release barrel, that floods with water on opening and is therefore pressure balanced at depth and so immune to depth effects.

A number of other innovative features were incorporated in the hookpod to allow rapid and safe setting, a line attachment collar to secure the pod to the line but allow slide off in the event of a flyback and an ergonomic shape for ease of handling and storage in the line bins.

The hookpod is now approved as best practice mitigation by ACAP and is currently undergoing full scale commercial trials in New Zealand.

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