Concerned about overfishing caused by traditional nets which also catch the usually protected smaller fish, Dan Watson, a graduate of London's Royal College of Art, designed and developed a fishing net with "escape rings" for unmarketable smaller fish. This net, called Safety Net, can be used on all types of fishing boats.
He invented an escape ring made from recycled polyamide and luminescent polyurethane, which is tailored to the survival instinct of the fish. Small and medium-sized species rise to the surface when they panic, while larger fish usually dive deeper. With this information, Dan Watson was then able to develop a selective net which enables trawlers to catch only adult fish while allowing the juveniles and wrong species of fish to escape.
"The escape rings were designed to do away with maintenance. They are self-reflective and are seen as emergency exits by the fish. The effect of water flowing through the ring carries the small fish towards the exit, keeping only the larger fish," explains Dan Watson.
Since graduation, he has gone on to create his own company, SafetyNet Technologies, which sells the new technology.
He has just won first place in the international James Dyson design competition and plans to invest the £10,000 prize money in the development of a wide range of SafetyNet prototypes as well as funding the tests required by the British government, which has signalled interest in his project.