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

Duke University researchers, more than 200,000 loggerheads and 50,000 leatherbacks are accidentally caught annually by commercial longline fisheries. Beverly's idea is to weigh down the main line with lead weights and release or "set" the baited hooks at depths deeper than 100 meters (328 feet), which allows longline fishermen to minimize encounters with sea turtles while maximizing their tuna catch. Successful testing of this idea has been carried out by three vessels fishing for tuna in Pacific waters. In initial testing, 42 percent more bigeye tuna were caught using Beverly's new weighted, deep-set gear.

An innovative combination of glowing ropes and stiffer nets--the results of collaboration among a chemist, biologist and fisherman--was recognized as a runner up with $5,000 in the "cetaceans" category. More than 300,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises--or cetaceans--are estimated to die every year from entanglement in fishing gear, more than from any other cause. Chemist Norm Holy from Pennsylvania, fisheries biologist Ed Trippel from Canada, and fisherman Don King from Massachusetts joined forces and developed gear to help marine mammals detect and avoid gillnets before coming into contact with them, as well as allow them to escape unharmed if they still become entangled. To create avoidable, detectable, safer gear, the team tinkered with the chemical properties of the ropes.

A group of scientists from the Central Institute of Fisheries Technology in India--Dr. M.R. Boopendranath, Dr. P. Pravin, T.R. Gibinkumar and S. Sabu--were recognized as runners up with $5,000 for their invention to reduce the bycatch of juvenile shrimp and fish in shrimp trawls. Trawl fishermen in India and other tropical fisheries depend on both finfish catches and shrimp catches to keep their commercial operations viable, but bycatch of juvenile fish and shrimp are of low commercial value and threaten future populations and catches. According to the U.N. Food and Agricult
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Source:World Wildlife Fund


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