New shark-resistant aquaculture net

VIA – World Fishing


New shark-resistant aquaculture net

02 Mar 2012

A shark-resistant net for open-ocean, warm-water fish farming is being introduced and is the result of a collaboration among NET Systems, Inc., DSM Dyneema and the Cape Eleuthera Institute.

It took over two years of research and development, and more than 20 different trials, to produce the PREDATOR-X net, which protects fish being raised in submerged open-sea aquaculture cages from attacks by sharks. Predator attacks have prevented the expansion of fish farming into temperate and tropical waters where a wide variety of fish can be grown.

PREDATOR-X combines high-strength Dyneema® polyethylene fibers and stainless steel wire. The search for a predator-resistant net began in 2008 when a shark penetrated a net used on a commercial fish farm in the Pacific, and also when sharks penetrated the nets covering the CEI aquaculture cage in the Bahamas.

“Nets are preferable to fences in open-ocean aquaculture. They are flexible, easy to handle, easy to fabricate on cages, and light enough to move about on boats,” said Ken Robertson, DSM application development and technical service engineer, “The new PREDATOR-X netting provides the fish farmer with a product that can solve their predator problems and be much more effective and efficient than fencing products.”

The industry needed a flexible, light-weight material capable of enduring a ‘perfect storm’ in the open seas and resisting the tearing and biting from apex predators like an 11-foot (220cm) bull shark. PREDATOR-X has successfully withstood attacks from tiger sharks, hammerheads, black tip, reef, lemon and nurse sharks, as well as bull sharks.

The materials were field tested in the waters at CEI. Bait cages were developed for the field tests. For each new net material being tested, bait fish would be sewn into the cylindrical net, and the surrounding area spiced with chum and fish blood – all designed to draw sharks to attack the bait cage. Video cameras monitored the test sessions.

“Because of the time and expense involved in …

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