Date: July 11, 2018
Source: University of Exeter
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).
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.
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 Royal Society journal Open Science on Wednesday, July 11 2018.
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.