SafetyNet – Fishing sees the light

SafetyNet Technologies out of the UK has developed underwater lights that fit onto fishing gear to reduce bycatch of unwanted species.

The adage ‘there are plenty more fish in the sea’ no longer rings true in many parts of the world. Destructive fishing techniques, rising ocean temperatures and other human influences have devastating effects on the distribution, productivity, and species composition of global fisheries. Taking only as much fish as we need is a key sustainability challenge. But this is not as simple as it sounds. Even when we try to be selective, not all fish that end up in nets are intended to be there. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, between 8 and 25% of the total global fisheries catch is discarded each year due to a technical inability to accurately target and catch the right fish, at a cost of €1.59bn per annum. In the fishing industry, by-catch refers to the fish or other marine species that are caught unintentionally while fishing for a certain target species. Bycatch can be a problem especially when endangered, threatened and protected species are accidentally caught, injured or killed. Catching the wrong species can also disrupt the food chain by inadvertently catching fish species that other fish rely on as food.

Guided by science and the knowledge that fish species are attracted or deterred by certain colors of light, SafetyNet Technologies has developed a series of light emitting products to keep non-target species at bay. One of SafetyNet Technologies’ products is Pisces, a kit of lights that can be attached to fishing gear to repel unwanted bycatch. The fisherman can select specific light colors before dropping their nets. This allows for greater control over the composition of the catch. Studies have shown that lights can reduce by-catch by 90% in some instances. Pisces provides light for more than 270 hours of use and can help fishermen comply with fishing regulations that require the use of sustainable fish gear, says SafetyNet Technologies.

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