Bycatch in net fisheries is recognized as a major source of mortality for many marine species, including seabirds. Few mitigation solutions, however, have been identified. In a new study authors assessed the effectiveness of illuminating fishing nets with green light emitting diodes (LEDs) to reduce the incidental capture of seabirds. Experiments were conducted in the demersal, set gillnet fishery of Constante, Peru and compared 114 pairs of control and illuminated nets. Seabird bycatch was higher in control nets than in illuminated nets, representing an 85.1% decline in the guanay cormorant (Phalacrocorax bougainvillii) bycatch rate. 39 cormorants were caught in control nets, while only 6 were caught in illuminated nets. This study showing that net illumination reduces seabird bycatch and previous studies showing reductions in sea turtle bycatch without reducing target catch indicate that net illumination can be an effective multi-taxa bycatch mitigation technique. This finding has broad implications for bycatch mitigation in net fisheries given LED technology’s relatively low cost, the global ubiquity of net fisheries, and the current paucity of bycatch mitigation solutions.
More info at: Mangel JC, Wang J, Alfaro-Shigueto J, Pingo S, Jimenez A, Carvalho F, Swimmer Y, Godley BJ (2018) Illuminating gillnets to save seabirds and the potential for multi-taxa bycatch mitigation. Royal Society Open Science 5: 180254.
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