Pulse trawl on flatfish as an alternative for beam trawl

Research on the economic performance and the environmental impact of the innovative. Pulse trawl in comparison to the conventional beam trawl. Research by Kees Taal and Ellen Hoefnagel.


The cost effectiveness of the pulse trawl in comparison to the beam trawl on the basis of two periods of commercial trials of the pulse trawl, turns out to be rather positive. The economic performance of the pulse trawl can compete with comparable beam trawl. This is especially due to a decrease in oil consumption, which is a high cost for beam trawlers. Fuel consumption of the pulse trawl is some 45-50% lower than the beam trawl.

Environmental costs are also lower. When it concerns discards, in the pulse trawl, the catch rates of undersized (discard) sole were significantly lower in 2006 than in the conventional beam trawl, and also catch rates of benthic fauna were significantly lower. However, in 2009 with the pulse trawl more sole in number and weights per unit of time was discarded and less plaice was discarded. There are indications that undersized plaice are damaged to a lesser degree in the pulse trawl and will survive better in the pulse trawl. Next to this the use of a pulse trawl generates less emission of CO2 than the use of a beam trawl.

The pulse trawl seems to be an alternative for beam trawlers that are mainly directed towards sole and plaice. Even sole catches are better but catches of plaice lack some behind. Some concern exists on the effects of pulse trawling on certain non target species which is subject of research at the moment.