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Solutions that reduce death of marine life reeled in by International Smart Gear Competition

As the world prepared to observe Earth Day, World Wildlife Fund and its partners in the International Smart Gear Competition announced three new winning solutions to prevent the accidental maiming and killing of marine mammals, juvenile fish, and sea turtles that become ensnared by fishing nets and longlines--a problem known as bycatch--while also improving the efficiency of commercial fishing.

"These solutions safeguard our living oceans," said Carter Roberts, president and CEO-elect, World Wildlife Fund. "When World Wildlife Fund began the Smart Gear competition, we looked for real-world solutions to protect the fantastic variety of marine life, increase efficiency and profitability for fishermen, and preserve the bounty of the sea for future generations. Today, I'm happy to announce our competition reeled in three promising innovations."

These three practical solutions are the inventions of a former high-school biology teacher and commercial fisherman; a North American team who tinkered with the chemical properties of fishing ropes and nets; and a team of Indian scientists familiar with the challenges of changing fishing practices and technologies in a developing country.

"While it's obvious how vital the ocean's been to me, we're all dependent on an ocean full of life and, in turn, it's dependent on our actions," said grand prize winner Steve Beverly, fisheries development officer for the Secretariat of the Pacific Community. "It's just common sense to create smarter fishing gear."

An international panel of expert judges unanimously awarded the grand prize and $25,000 to Beverly, an American working in New Caledonia and a former high school biology teacher, commercial fisherman, commercial diver and tugboat operator. He noted that fisheries' logbook data and studies of sea turtle behavior indicated sea turtles swim and become hooked in shallower waters than tuna, the target species of most longline commercial fishing. According to
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Source:World Wildlife Fund


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