2011 WWF COMPETITION TO NET BEST HOOK, LINE AND SINKER ANNOUNCED Published: 28 February, 2011
The UK’s fishermen, backyard inventors, net makers, students and others have today (Tuesday 1 March) been invited to submit entries for the best new fishing gear to reduce bycatch and discards.
WWF’s Smart Gear Competition is offering a grand prize of $30,000 (£18,500) and two $10,000 (£6,000) runner-up prizes.This biennial initiative aims to find innovative ways to make fishing gear more environmentally friendly by reducing the capture of unwanted marine life, typically termed ‘bycatch’ which ends up being thrown back overboard, most of them dead.
Giles Bartlett, Fisheries Policy Officer at WWF-UK said: “Discards are a huge problem worldwide and addressing the issue in European waters, where high volumes of commercial species such as cod are discarded every year, is a priority issue for government’s fishery managers and the public. Discards occur for a number of reasons including legal constraints on landings, commercial choice and insufficient selectivity in the fishing gear used.
“The elimination of discards will form a central point in the proposals to be published by the European Commission on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy in a few months’ time. The measures envisaged are likely to include a ban on discards which would add on the urgency to use selective fishing gear, thus making this WWF’s initiative even more timely.
“This initiative by WWF is designed to encourage stakeholders to identify and develop the most adapted fishing gear that minimises the impact of fishing on the marine environment. We look forward to seeing many entries from the UK.”
Since its launch in 2004, the Smart Gear competition has grown more and more competitive with the winning entries gaining traction with many fisheries around the world.
Flexi Grids, which won in 2006, are now mandatory in blue whiting fisheries in the Faroe Islands, and are used in an increasing number of countries all over the world.
“The Eliminator” trawl – a winning idea from 2007 designed to reduce the bycatch of cod – is being adopted by the EU as a measure in cod bycatch reduction under certain conditions. Vessels throughout the U.K. are also using a modified version of the net called the Orkney Trawl with good results.
Bycatch has been identified as an issue of critical ocean conservation and resource management concern. Victims include over 300,000 small whales, dolphins, and porpoises that die from entanglement in fishing nets each year, making bycatch the single largest cause of mortality for small cetaceans and pushing several species to the verge of extinction.