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Perfect North Sea trawl

A few years ago Vónin’s designers got together to develop a new generation of groundfish trawl, looking for something that would replace the Bacalao that has been refined many times in the many years this trawl has been in use.

The result was the Zenith trawl, designed as an all-round groundfish trawl but with enough headline height to be effective on saithe and haddock, but without sacrificing ground contact.

The first Zenith trawls were tested by Faroese pair teams, which had traditionally used Bacalao trawls, and by working Zenith and Balalao trawls for alternate tows, it was straightforward to see that the new designed scored better – despite having a marginally smaller fishing circle – with better headline height and the same warp tension.

The Faroese pair trawl fleet has mostly switched over to using Zenith trawls, made in Vónin’s own Fortis netting, and Zeniths have also been shown to return good results when spread with a pair of trawl doors.

Norwegian trawler Tobis was rigged with a pair of 380-mesh Zenith trawls earlier this year and skipper Harald Taranger reports that they have performed well.

‘We have been using these for half a year now and it looks good. We get better height and more spread, and these are much easier to tow, with fuel consumption down 15-20%,’ he said.

Tobis is twin rigging, mainly in the North Sea, looking mainly for saithe and cod. Catches are landed in Norway and shipped by road to Hanstholm in Denmark to be auctioned.

‘We tried many types of trawls before this. Then we got the Zenith trawls and are very satisfied with them,´he said.

“We get better height and more spread, and these are much easier to tow, with fuel consumption down 15-20%”

HArald Taranger, skipper of tobis

He explained that the switch to new gear was partly for fishing halibut during the season that starts in late April and continues through to August, but as those grounds lie mainly in the UK zone, that fishery has come to nothing this year – although halibut prices had been poor. 

‘We missed it this year. Prices had been down because of the effects of Covid on the market, but they are returning to normal now.’

But with a change of footrope, it’s no problem to work the Zenith trawls to target the usual groundfish.

‘The fish goes deeper as it gets colder in the winter and it looks like we’ll be even happier with these trawls in deeper water,’ Harald Taranger said.

‘It’s an excellent trawl. It has good ground contact, but not so hard on the ground as our previous trawls, so there’s hardly any damage. It’s a perfect trawl for the North Sea.’

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