WASHINGTON, January 27, 2009 Designed to inspire innovative ideas for environmentally-friendly fishing gear, World Wildlife Fund launched the 4th International Smart Gear Competition with a call for new designs for fishing devices that reduce bycatchthe capture of unintended species in fishing gear. The competition is open to anyone and carries with it the chance to win $57,500 in prizes.
"Bycatch is one of the greatest and most pervasive threats to sharks, sea turtles, fish and marine mammals that live in the oceans," said Bill Fox, WWF's vice president of fisheries. "The Smart Gear Competition has proven effective in galvanizing creative thinkers from around the world to develop innovative devices that enable fishermen to fish more sustainably."
Each year, millions of tons of fish are caught as unwanted bycatch, many of which are discarded back into the sea, often dead or dying. Every year, more than four million sharks, billfish, sea turtles, marine mammals and seabirds are caught on longlines in the Pacific Ocean alone. In announcing the competition, WWF officials said they are searching for real-world fishing solutions that allow fishermen to fish 'smarter' able to better target their intended catch while safeguarding the dolphins, sea turtles and other marine life often caught unintentionally.
"Smart Gear represents a unique collaboration among conservationists, fishermen and scientists in support of more sustainable fishing practices," Fox said.
The competition is open to eligible entrants from any profession, including fishermen, professional gear manufacturers, teachers, students, engineers, scientists and backyard inventors, offering anyone a chance to win. The winner is determined by a panel of judges that includes fishermen, researchers, engineers and fisheries managers from all over the world.
The winning designer will receive a $30,000 grand prize. There will also be two $10,000 runner-up prizes a
|Contact: Erika Viltz|
World Wildlife Fund