Press Release

June 22, 2012

Incorporated Administrative Agency, Fisheries Research Agency

Towel nets developed for efficient collection and recovery of debris

  • Special nets were developed to collect and remove debris.
  • The nets are being used by local fishermen to remove debris from the sea.

The tsunamis during the Tohoku Region Pacific Coast Earthquake washed a huge amount of debris down to the sea. According to the “Estimates of total amount of debris washed away during the Tohoku Region Pacific Coast Earthquake” by the Ministry of Environment, approximately 5 million tons of debris flowed into the sea from Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima Prefectures, of which 70% remains accumulated on the seabed. The debris in the sea disturbs fishing; it breaks fishing tools and damages caught fish. Small debris has been removed using trawling nets, but the nets soon become ragged. Development of efficient tools for removing small debris scattered over a large area has been awaited.

Prior to development, the Agency discussed with the government of Miyagi Prefecture, local fishermen, and Tohoku University to decide policies of collecting and removing debris and determined the specifications of the nets to be used for the exclusive purpose. The nets should not get entangled with collected debris, and thus were decided to have a towel-like shape based on the knowledge about nets used to collect and break giant jelly fish into pieces. The towel nets have been tested by the Agency, the government of Miyagi Prefecture, fishermen’s associations, and manufacturers of the nets and were found to be effective enough for removing debris from the sea area. For areas of large amounts of small-size debris, modification of the net shape into a shallow bag was found to improve the efficiency of debris removal. The modified nets are being used by local fishermen to remove debris.

Prototype net