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Fishing Net Reels In Top Prize

Fishing Net Reels In Top Prize

Sir James Dyson, inventor of the Dyson vacuum, has judged SafetyNet, a product to tackle the increasing problem of over fishing, as the winning product design in the international 2012 James Dyson Award.

British designer Dan Watson, a graduate of the Royal College of Art, has engineered a series of escape rings for fish, which can be retrofitted to a fisherman’s trawler net.

After reading about the problem of overfishing, Dan began researching ways of tackling the issue. Nearly half of the fish caught are thrown back into the sea because they are not suitable to be sold, many don’t survive. SafetyNet provides an illuminated escape route to young, unmarketable fish, to prevent them being captured in the nets.

The rings exploit escape behaviours of fish. Small and medium fish swim up when stressed, whereas larger fish swim down. By exploiting this, the net only catches mature, non-endangered species.

James Dyson said: “This tangible technology approaches a serious environmental problem, we should celebrate it. SafetyNet shows how young graduates like Dan can tackle global issues ignored by established industries in new and inventive ways.”

Over 500 projects from 18 countries were judged by an international panel of engineers, designers, academics and design media over three months. The top fifteen entries were judged by Sir James Dyson this month. Victoria University industrial design graduate, James McNab, and design duo Jason Hill and Liz Tsai from the United States were named by James as runners up entries. Both entries have won £2,000 in prize money.

Since graduating, Dan has started a company, SafetyNet Technologies, to try and commercialise his technology. He said, “The escape rings are designed to be low maintenance. The rings are illuminated, acting in like an emergency exit sign for the fish. Water flowing through the wide open meshes guides smaller the fish to freedom while retaining the larger ones.”

Dan will be using the £10,000 prize money to further develop a broad range of prototypes for SafetyNet and finalise government testing.

Runners Up:

Revival Vest (New Zealand):
Problem: Free fall diving is extremely dangerous. Many divers have drowned after blacking out whilst under water.
Solution: Revival vest uses smart fabric technology to monitor respiration and changes to the body caused by the stress of drowning. Once it detects a change, Revival Vest inflates bringing the user safely to the surface. See Q&A below.

The BETH Project (USA):
Problem: There are over 30 million people in Africa, Asia and Latin America who require prosthesis. Prosthetic limbs are expensive, use rigid, heavy materials and can be uncomfortable when not fitted properly.
Solution: The Beth Project is a pain-free, affordable, self-adjusting limb that can last a life-time. The new limb gives the amputee a chance to live a life without hindrance.

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