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Green LEDs embedded fishnets 'instrumental' in saving endangered marine species

Green LEDs embedded fishnets ‘instrumental’ in saving endangered marine species

By BizLED Bureau

Mar 25, 2016: In a recent trend observed by biologists at the University of Exeter, fish-hunters are using Illuminated fishing nets as a cost-effective means for business. However, this process is dramatically reducing the number of sea turtles getting caught and dying unnecessarily.

After critical research, the team found that attaching the green battery powered light-emitting diodes (LED) to gillnets used by a small-scale fishery helps in reducing the number of green turtle deaths by 64 per cent. This has no effect on fish catching. The innovative study was carried out in Sechura Bay, was supported by ProDelphinus, a UK Government’s Darwin Initiative. This makes it unique as it is the first time that lighting technology has been used in a working fishery.

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A total of 114 pairs of nets were used. Having 500-metres covered in length, the nets were illuminated with light-emitting diodes (LEDs) placed every 10 meters along the gillnet floatline. There were other nets which were controlled and not illuminated. The illuminated nets caught 62 while control nets caught 125 green turtles. The team is now working with larger fisheries in Peru and with different colored lights to repeat the results on more critically endangered species. This technique is very exciting as it is an example of something that can help to find solutions in critical and complex situations.

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Thousands of endangered turtles die as bycatch in gillnet fisheries around the world and the study will help to provide a solution. Understanding functional costing will help emphasize the requirement for support from national ministries, international non-governmental organizations and the broader fisheries industry to make possible to implement a widespread implementation of net illumination as a sea turtle bycatch reduction strategy.”

“Bycatch is a critical issue that threatens the sustainability and resilience of our fishing communities, economies and ocean ecosystems,” said Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for fisheries. “Funding research like this is key to NOAA’s efforts to reduce bycatch. We can better protect our natural resources, through this effort.”

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