Hoppers in Australian trawl fisheries


Hoppers are a practical and efficient sorting device. Sorting the catch is quicker and easier and hoppers keep the target product and bycatch in better condition as they are held in seawater and not exposed to air on the back deck of the trawler.


Hoppers – An industry driven initiative

The design, development and installation of hoppers on trawlers in Australia has been an initiative from industry.

Large hoppers were first developed for trawlers in northern Australian waters in the early 1980′s as a means of improving the quality of large catches of prawns that were exposed to the tropical heat during sorting and processing.

By releasing the trawl catch into a container of seawater on the back deck of the trawler rather than onto a dry sorting tray, prawns are not exposed to air and can “rest” in the seawater after the stress of capture. This allows the prawns to return to their normal colour and to hold their freshness while waiting for sorting, therefore providing a higher quality final product.

Along with improved product quality, hoppers have also improved processing efficiency. The use of a hopper therefore, provides strong economic benefits and as a result, have now been installed on a large number of prawn and scampi trawlers that operate in Australia’s northern waters.

Hoppers are also used in other temperate and southern Australian prawn trawl fisheries, although their uptake has not been as widespread and to date, has mostly been limited by the size of the vessel and cost of the hoppers. A number of vessels in the Scallop Fishery and Pilbara Finfish Fishery in Western Australia, Stout Whiting Fishery in Queensland and the Finfish Trawl Fishery off northern Australia have also adopted large hoppers. Small hoppers are also used in NSW Estuary Trawl Fisheries.

A Handbook for Fishers

This handbook is primarily a technical handbook for fishers. It is also however, a useful resource for others interested in the environmental management of Australian trawl fisheries.

The Purpose of this Handbook

This Handbook aims to:

  • detail the design, operation and use of hoppers (back deck water tanks/sorting devices) in trawl fisheries across Australia;

  • enable the sharing of industry knowledge on hoppers amongst fishers from all Australian trawl fisheries

  • provide readily accessible information to fishers on the use and application of hoppers

  • facilitate the broader adoption among trawl fisheries of best practice use of hoppers

  • help stimulate the development and uptake of new and suitable hopper designs

  • provide a tool to inform and educate the general community, fisheries and environmental managers about the initiatives developed and adopted by Australian trawl fisheries to reduce the impacts of trawling on the aquatic environment

  • work towards achieving sustainable operating practices and improved economic efficiency.

Information presented in this handbook has been obtained through interviews and discussions with many trawl fishers across Australia, hopper manufacturers and through surveys conducted with fishers, researchers, fishing companies and other industry bodies.

For copies of the handbook contact OceanWatch Australia.

 


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