Saving fish — and fisherman — from extinction

Throwing unwanted “by-catch” fish overboard threatens the health of the world’s oceans and the livelihood of fishermen. The SafetyNet’s inspired design incorporates “escape rings” into a trawling net system, giving juvenile and endangered fish a much-needed second chance.

About the Project

  • Project idea:
    The SafetyNet is a new trawling system that will cut down on the by-catch and subsequent discarding of juvenile and endangered fish. By exploiting fish behavioral habits and physiology the trawl will separate different species and ages of fish. SafetyNet meets all the requirements set forth by the UN in their definition of sustainable development - providing for today's needs while setting up a better situation in the future.


    40% of the world's population relies on fish as their main source of food. At present, unsustainable fishing practices mean that we are in danger of depleting our fish supplies and trawling species such as cod into extinction.

    Something has to be done now to change these practices that have been going on since the 1970s and the introduction of commercial fishing. Every year 27 million tons of fish are thrown, dead, back into the oceans because they are unmarketable, or too young to legally sell. In Britain, fishermen are discarding 2 out of 3 fish due to non-selective fishing gear. The SafetyNet system has been designed to release juvenile and non-target fish (most importantly cod), in order to allow fish stocks to replenish and support us in the future, rather than just today - as well as safeguarding the livelihoods of fishermen.

Project Team / Group name

Dan Watson


Royal College of Art
London UK

The Royal College of Art (the RCA) is an art school located in London, United Kingdom. It is the world’s only wholly postgraduate university of art and design, offering the degrees of Master of Arts (M.A.), Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). It has had university status since 1967.