International Council for the Exploration of the Sea
WKING Report 2020.pdf (9.61 MB)

Workshop on Innovative Fishing Gear (WKING)

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posted on 2023-08-28, 09:07 authored by ICESICES

The EU Commission (EU DG-MARE) seeks ICES advice on the progress that has been made, or impact arising from innovative gears within EU waters. This advice should assess the benefits for, or negative effects on, marine ecosystems, sensitive habitats and selectivity (see: EU request on review of innovative gears for potential use in EU waters and their impacts)

Specifically, and to the extent possible, the advice sought should provide information on what kind of innovative gears are being used, their objective, their technical specificities and the im-pact on both target species, non-target species and the environment in which they had been deployed.

In response to the EU DG-MARE request on the progress and impact that has been made in innovative gear use within EU waters, ICES advises that EU adopt the definition of “Innovative gear” as provided in the report for the Workshop on Innovative Fishing Gear (WKING). In ad-dition, through the work in WKING, the international expert group has also identified rigorous approaches and methodologies to assess different levels of innovation and provide insight for possible adoption or approval of use. 

According to WKING, an innovation is considered as “any new ideas, creative thoughts, new imaginations in the form of technology or method” that breaks into the market or society. It takes place through the provision of more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or business models that are made available to markets, governments and society. 

Therefore, an innovation is something original and more effective and, as a consequence, new that "breaks into" the market or society. Thus, an innovative fishing gear is a gear or a significant component of the gear that has not been used commercially and/or that is sufficiently different from the baseline in the current European Regulations, or in the absence of them, different from the commonly used gear in the specific sea basin (area) in EU waters. 

For a specific challenge within a fishery, a successful innovation provides a more ideal solution than what previously was available, i.e. the baseline or standard gear. In EU fisheries, baseline standards are derived either from existing technical measures specified in the European Regulations or from unregulated, commonly used commercial practice (e.g. groundgears) and consist of objectives and measurable parameters. Examples of these parameters are mesh sizes for both active gear and passive nets, particular gear specifications, minimum conservation reference sizes for target and bycatch species, closed or restricted areas, as well as conservation measures to mitigate catches of sensitive species. 

A framework to objectively assess the performance of an innovative fishing solution in a specific fishery is provided by WKING using catch efficiency, selectivity, and impact on the environment as main “Criteria of Assessment” (CA), as well as other additional, and sometimes indirect or peripheral effects; e.g. energy consumption, greenhouse gas emission, and marine contamination. 

Moreover, the “Complexity” and “Technological Readiness Level” (TRL) of each innovative fishing gear are proposed as parameters for evaluating the suitability, readiness, and potential adop-tion in a specific EU fishery. For each CA, an innovation matrix that allowed identifying the most relevant innovations for the objectives of the European fishery policy was conceived. 

Full and objective assessment of the effect based on these criteria helps determine whether a specific innovation is beneficial compared to the baseline gear.


Published under the auspices of the following ICES Steering Group or Committee

  • EOSG

Published under the auspices of the following ICES Expert Group or Strategic Initiative



ICES Scientific Reports





Contributors (Editors)

Antonella Sala

Contributors (Authors)

Antonello Sala; Manu Sistiaga; Thomas Catchpole; Narcisse Ebango Ngando; Haraldur Arnar Einarsson; Jordan P. Feekings; Paul Frobisher; Pingguo He; Terje Jørgensen; Ludvig Ahm Krag; Rob Kynoch; Matthew Mchugh; Pieke Molenaar; Daniel Stepputtis; Michala Techau; Crispian Ashby Elena Balestri; Isara Chanrachkij; Alexis Conides; Kenny Coull; Jochen Depestele; Malene Eilersen Emre Fakioglu; Hannah Fennell; Lauren Fields; Fabio Fiorentino; Juan Garcia; Michele L. Geraci Eduardo Grimaldo; Junita D. Karlsen; Gerasimos Kondylatos; Heleen Lenoir; Alessandro Lucchetti Ulf Lundvall; Paul Macdonald; Eric Matzen; Sonia Mehault; David Miller; Chryssi Mytilineou Hans Nilsson; Emilio Notti; Andrea Petetta; Shale Rosen; Pedro Sa; Giacomo Sardo; Paolo Sartor Mario Sbrana; Liming Song; Björn Stockhausen; Wouter van Broekhoven; Benoit Vincent; Sergio Vitale; Paul Winger; Cheng Zhaohai



Recommended citation

ICES. 2020. ICES Workshop on Innovative Fishing Gear (WKING). ICES Scientific Reports. 2:96. 130 pp.

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