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Illuminating fishing nets with low-cost lights could reduce the terrible impact they have on seabirds and marine-dwellers by more than 85 per cent, new research has shown.
A team of international researchers, led by Dr. Jeffrey Mangel from the University of Exeter, has shown the number of birds caught in gillnets can be drastically reduced by attaching green battery-powered light-emitting diodes (LEDs).
Study - Researchers - Pairs - Gillnets—which - Positions
For the study, the researchers compared 114 pairs of gillnets—which are anchored in fixed positions at sea and designed to snare fish by the gills—in fishing waters off the coast of Peru.
They discovered that the nets fitted with the LEDs caught 85 per cent fewer guanay cormorants—a native diving bird that commonly becomes entangled in nets—compared with those without lights.
Research - Team - LED - Lighting - Number
Coupled with previous research conducted by the same team, that showed LED lighting also reduced the number of sea turtles caught in fishing nets by 64 per cent, the researchers believe the lights offer a cheap, reliable and durable way to dramatically reduce the capture and death of birds and turtles, without reducing the intended catch of fish.
The research is published in the journal Royal Society Open Science on Wednesday, July 11 2018.
Author - Dr - Mangel - Centre - Ecology
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.
"It shows us that we may be able to find cost-effective ways to reduce bycatch of multiple taxa of protected species, and do so while still making it possible for fishers to earn a livelihood."
Peru - Gillnet - Fleet - Component - Nation
Peru's gillnet fleet comprises the largest component of the nation's small-scale fleet and is conservatively estimated to set 100,000km of net per year in which thousands of turtles and seabirds will die as "bycatch" or unintentionally.
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