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More Light, Less Bycatch, Scientists Find in Newly Published Study

19th April 2020
Authors of the study hold up the square mesh panel, inserted into the otter-trawl net with LEDs attached. Lights help to increase escapement of fish through the large square mesh in the panel Authors of the study hold up the square mesh panel, inserted into the otter-trawl net with LEDs attached. Lights help to increase escapement of fish through the large square mesh in the panel Photo: Sian Morgan

Illuminated exits are as useful to fish as to humans in a tight spot.

Newly published research has found that artificial light on square mesh panels in nets can help to reduce unwanted bycatch of fish.

The study, published in the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, involved trials with two fishing vessels off the Isle of Man from June to August 2017.

trawl netOtter-trawl deployed behind the Queen scallop fishing vessel with a square mesh panel and LEDs inserted into the upper section of the net Photo: Lucy K Southworth

Lead author Lucy K Southworth of Bangor University’s School of Ocean Sciences in Wales notes that use of lights has been tested before, but these trials were particularly successful.

Two 14 metre vessels, Two Girls and Our Sarah Jane, were fitted with a “treatment” and a “control” net which were interchanged between the two after every second day.

scallop catchView from one of the Queen scallop fishing vessels during the bycatch reduction experiment. Vessels fish parallel to one another so that catch comparisons can be made. Photo: Lucy K Southworth)

The weight per unit area of all bycatch species caught in the modified nets, fitted with lights, was lower compared with the traditional “control” nets, and there were no significant losses of the target catch of the two vessels - Queen scallop.

spurdog releaseSpurdog (Squalus acanthias) escaping from the illuminated square mesh panel at 29-40m depth. Photo: Lucy K Southworth)

More details are in the April issue of The Skipper magazine.

Published in Fishing, Marine Science
Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004) on Irish helicopter search and rescue; and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010).

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