PFA members use freezer-trawlers for their pelagic fishing activities, (‘pelagos’ = ocean). Their target species are small pelagic fish such as herring, mackerel, horse mackerel, sardinella, blue whiting and silver smelt, which swim together in shoals and often migrate over long distances in the ocean.
These shoals are located with the help of echo-sounding equipment. From the echogram it is possible to estimate the depth and the size of the shoal. The net is towed behind the ship just below the water surface or further down the water column, but does not reach the sea bed.
Pelagic fishing gear is constantly undergoing further improvements to ensure a responsible fishery through better selectivity. Special measures and aids – such as large mesh sizes in the front part of the net – are being developed to prevent the catch of un-wanted species or undersized juvenile fish.
The PFA and its members cooperate closely with marine scientists and gear specialists in a number of research projects to achieve this.