Fact of the Week: When French Fishing Boats Adopted an Innovative New Design for Nets, the Quality of Their Catches Increased by 29 Percent and Prices for Consumers Dropped by 23 Percent

John Wu September 18, 2017
September 18, 2017

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Industries innovate to increase their productivity, and in so doing they pass along benefits to consumers by offering lower prices and better-quality goods. The French commercial ocean fishing industry provides one such example. In 2010, the French fleet adopted an innovative new design for fishing nets called the “Danish seine,” which has a conical shape with two long wings, a pair of drag lines, and a pocket in the middle to collect fish. The result was a 29 percent improvement in the quality of the fish harvest and a 23 percent decrease in prices.

The new net, combined with special information technologies, allowed fishermen to be more selective in catching only the most commercially viable fish while ignoring species with little value. This increased productivity in two main ways. First, commercially viable fish became easier to catch, which increased their supply and decreased prices. Second, fishing boats filled up their cargo holds faster, thereby speeding their time to market, which keeps fish fresher, an important quality improvement for consumers.