Young inventor lands Dyson award with safety net for fish

Dan Watson’s SafetyNet lets young “unmarketable” fish escape. It has a series of rings which allow fish of the wrong size or type to swim free, tackling the almost 50pc of catches which are thrown back. Many of these fish do not survive.

SafetyNet exploits the way different fish try to escape when stressed. Since smaller fish swim up, while larger fish swim down, the net’s design only catches mature species. The rest can escape through the net’s illuminated rings, reports The Telegraph.

Mr Watson said: “Water flowing through the wide open meshes guides the smaller fish to freedom while the larger ones are retained.”

The 27-year-old Royal College of Art graduate beat finalists from 17 countries to win an overall prize of £10,000.

“Coming from a company that’s up there in design and innovation, it’s great, and it’s an honour considering the group of finalists.”

The runners-up included a “pain-free, affordable, self-adjusting” prosthetic limb and a “revival vest” for divers which uses fabric technology to inflate when it detects its wearer might be drowning.

Mr Watson expects to license his design to manufacturers. “Me setting up an entire factory is not going to happen,” he says.
“I’m working with a company to refine the design to make it easy to manufacture.”

He’s currently working on making the net stronger and “pressure proof”. He said he will spend the prize money on more prototypes. “It will definitely speed up the process and allow us to do a good range of testing.”

He said trials of the net are being set up in a number of countries.

Dyson founder Sir James Dyson said: “This tangible technology approaches a serious environmental problem.

“SafetyNet shows how young graduates like Dan can tackle global issues ignored by established industries in new and inventive ways.”

Last year’s winner, Australian Edward Linacre, invented Airdrop, which allows crops to be grown in very dry regions. He is in talks with companies all over the world to help him manufacture and distribute it.