A cantilevered fishing net, also known as a gill net or drift net, is a type of fishing gear used by commercial and artisanal fishermen to catch fish and other marine species. It is a passive fishing method where the net is suspended vertically in the water column, allowing fish to swim into it and become entangled. The net is designed to entrap fish by their gills, hence the name “gill net.”
Here’s how a cantilevered fishing net typically works:
Structure: The net consists of a series of mesh panels attached to a floatline on the surface and a weighted groundline at the bottom. The floatline keeps the top of the net afloat, while the weighted groundline keeps the bottom submerged.
Setting the net: The net is deployed in the water, creating a vertical wall-like barrier at a chosen depth. The net can be set to different depths depending on the targeted species and fishing location.
Entanglement: Fish swimming into the net encounter the fine mesh, and as they attempt to pass through, their gills or fins get caught in the netting, preventing their escape.
Retrieval: After a certain period, usually overnight, the fishermen return to the net and retrieve the catch. This process involves pulling up the net using specialized fishing boats or manually from smaller vessels.
Cantilevered fishing nets can be an efficient fishing method, but they are also controversial due to the potential negative impacts on non-target species, marine mammals, and seabirds. Bycatch (the unintended capture of non-target species) is a significant concern with this fishing gear, as it can lead to the accidental capture and mortality of non-commercial species.
In some regions, regulations and guidelines are in place to manage the use of cantilevered fishing nets and reduce their impact on the marine ecosystem. Sustainable fishing practices, such as using specific mesh sizes, implementing bycatch reduction devices, and adhering to seasonal and area restrictions, aim to minimize the ecological impact while allowing for responsible fishing activities.