safety net trawling system by dan watson wins james dyson award
safety net trawling system by dan watson wins james dyson award safety net trawling system by dan watson wins james dyson award
jun 30, 2011

safety net trawling system by dan watson wins james dyson award

‘safety net’ by dan watson wins james dyson awardimage courtesy dyson



40% of the world’s population relies on fish as its primary food source, but each year, fishermen return over 7 million tons of unmarketable fish, dead, to the sea. many current fishing techniques are not selective, leading to juvenile or endangered fish being caught along with more marketable ones.


created by dan watson, a graduate student in innovation design engineering at the royal college of art in london, ‘safetynet‘ is an innovative trawling system that exploits fish behavioral habits and physiology. circular ‘escape rings’ are retrofitted into any net to keep the holes of the net stretched open, permitting small fish to escape and ensuring that only marketable ones are caught (ordinarily, the mesh becomes compressed as it is dragged through the water by the boat). the rings are illuminated to make the exits more visible. an internal separator panel running horizontally within the net delineates the border between a finer upper mesh and wider-spaced lower mesh, taking advantage of the fact that endangered cod tend to swim downwards when under stress but the desired haddock and whiting will tend to swim upward. two models of escape ring are both capable of snapping onto existing mesh nets; one is battery-powered, and the other is self-charging, capturing the energy from the flow of water over a small built-in turbine in order to generate power to the LEDs. using the ‘safetynet’ system, the fishing industry can become more sustainable.




we have updated the original article on march 15, 2013. the 2013 international james dyson award is now open for entries. last year’s international winner, dan watson, engineered a device increase the sustainability of fishing. this year the award’s prize fund has increased by $78,000 to help meet the costs associated with developing their ideas – doubling the prize money to nearly $150,000. the international winner will receive $45,000 to develop their invention, and a further $15,000 for their institution.



  concept illustration of fish escaping through the rings of ‘safetynet’, designed by dan watson



video overview of the ‘safetynet’ system

full detail rendering of ‘escape ring’



full rendering of a ring in net



illuminated rings in position in net


concept diagram of ‘safetynet’

diverse models of ‘escape ring’

explanation of design benefits



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

  • Brilliant! Wonder if it works as in pratice?

    Jimbo_Jet says:
  • good job!!!!

    jason says:
  • very clever!!! hope we can start to use it soon!

    laura says:
  • I was wondering if it works as in practice too.. because is such a good idea!!!… really good project idea…

    Mimi says:

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