Fishing Nets Illuminated with Green Lights Give Conservationists Hope

In a newly published study, researchers have shown that gill nets, that act like a curtain hanging in the water, catch fewer seabirds when the nets have green LED lights attached every 10 feet. The researchers found that one type of seabird, a cormorant was inadvertently caught 85.1 percent less frequently with the green LED-illuminated nets than the standard gill nets. Inadvertent capturing of animals in fishing nets is called bycatch.

Researchers find using gill fishing nets with green LEDs reduces bycatch-
Photo Credit: ProDelphinus

The researchers included Jeffrey C. Mangel from the University of Exeter and member of conservation group ProDelphinus and John Wang with the NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service.

They conducted the study in a set gillnet fishery of Constante, Peru. The group used 114 pairs of standard (control) and illuminated nets for the study. During the study, they observed the capture of 45 guanay cormorants in the nets. Of these, 36 were caught in the standard (control) nets and just six were captured in the illuminated nets.

They published the results in the Royal Society Open Science journal. The group previously published a study showing that the green-illuminated nets could reduce the bycatch of the sea turtles. Both studies showed the bycatch reduction without reducing the targeted catch. In the latest paper, the researchers concluded that the same illuminated nets could potentially reduce the bycatch rate of both seabirds and sea turtles in small-scale fisheries.

The study’s lead author Dr. Mangel, from the Centre for Ecology and Conservation at the University’s Penryn Campus, said, “We are very encouraged by the results from this study.”

More information: Illuminating gillnets to save seabirds and the potential for multi-taxa bycatch mitigation, Royal Society Open Science, … /10.1098/rsos.180254


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