Monday, May 29, 2006

Saving sharks with magnets

Thousands of sharks could be saved from being caught and killed on fishing lines thanks to the winning entry of this year's WWF-sponsored Smart Gear competition.Every year thousands of sharks die after becoming snared on hooks set by commercial fisheries to catch fish such as tuna and swordfish.

The problem has pushed some shark species to the brink of extinction, with some populations down by 90 per cent. In addition, millions of tonnes of fish each year are wasted as unwanted bycatch — the incidental capture of non-targeted species — and hundreds of thousands of seabirds, mammals, sea turtles and other marine animals are killed through destructive fishing practices.

However, Michael Herrmann, a research associate at the US-based company Shark Defense, has won the 2006 Smart Gear competition for an innovation that addresses the problem of shark bycatch. Knowing that sharks can detect magnetic fields, Herrmann found that placing strong magnets just above the hooks on longline fishing nets can repel certain shark species.

He will receive the US$25,000 grand prize to further develop and test his winning idea.
“Solutions do exist, or can be developed, and there is no excuse for allowing this level of waste in our seas,” said WWF International's Director General James Leape.

“Smarter fishing is critical to ensuring a future for sharks, seabirds and sea turtles. Without urgent and bold legislation to reduce this critical environmental and economic problem, the waste will continue and, in the long term, risk putting the fishing industry out of business.”

Smart Gear runner-up prizes went to Chris Carey of Independent Fisheries Ltd, New Zealand, who proposed a flying scarecrow device to scare away birds from getting caught on wires attached to trawl nets, and to Kristian Zachariasssen, Faroese Fisheries Laboratory, for inventing a lighter, flexible grid for trawl nets that may allow certain fish to escape.

The International Smart Gear Competition was created by WWF-US in May 2004 to bring together partners representing fishermen, fisheries, policy and science to find solutions that will reduce the unnecessary decline of vulnerable species due to bycatch. More than 80 entries to the competition were received from 26 countries. The winners were chosen by a panel of international judges that included fishermen, researchers, engineers and fisheries managers from all over the world.

"We hope the competition will inspire managers and fishermen to look at practical solutions to reduce the problem of overfishing and declining health of oceans, which is also endangering food security in poorer countries," said Leape.

"The Smart Gear competition is an opportunity to find, reward and promote what are very often inexpensive, easy ideas that will be widely embraced by fishermen to improve fishing gears and techniques."


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AGRI-INFO/MAY 29, 2006



TITLE: SAVING SHARKS WITH MAGNETS


ALAM BA NINYO NA MERONG NAISIP NA BAGONG PARAAN ANG MGA EKSPERTO PARA MAILIGTAS SA ANUMANG KAPAHAMAKAN ANG MGA PATING SA KARAGATAN SA BUONG MUNDO?

ITO AY SA PAMAMAGITAN NG PAGGAMIT NG MAGNET NA UMANOY MAY KAKAYANAN NA ITABOY ANG MGA PATING PAPALAYO SA PAIN NA INILAAN SA PAGHULI SA MGA ISDANG TUNA AT SWORDFISH.

LUBOS NA NABAHALA ANG MGA EKSPERTO DAHIL SA UNTI-UNTING NAUUBOS ANG MGA PATING SA KARAGATAN SANHI NG HINDI SINASADYANG PAGKAKAPAIN SA MGA ITO AT ANG POPULASYON NG PATING AY BUMAGSAK NG 90 PORSIYENTO.

BUKOD SA PATING, MILYUN MILYUNG TONELADA NG MGA ISDA ANG NASASAYANG SA HINDI SINASADYANG PAGKAKAHULI SA KANILA MAGING ANG IBA PANG HAYOP TULAD NG SEABIRDS, MAMMALS, SEA TURTLES AT IBA PANG MARINE ANIMAL.

DAHIL SA BAGONG GADGET NA NAIMBENTO NI MICHAEL HERRMANN, RESEARCH ASSOCIATE NG US-BASED COMPANY SHARK DEFENSE AY MAAARI NANG MALIGTAS SA “BYCATCH” ANG MGA PATING.

DAHIL SA ANG MGA PATING AY MAY KAKAYANAN NA MAKA-DETECT NG MAGNETIC FIELDS, NATUKLASAN NI HERRMANN NA ANG PAGLALAGAY NG MALAKAS NA MAGNET SA IBABAW NG MGA HOOK O PAIN SA LONGLINE FISHING NETS AY NAKAPAGTATABOY SA MGA PATING.

ANG IMBENSIYON NI HERRMANN, AY NAGPANALO SA KANYA NG 2006 SMART GEAR COMPETITION NA MAY PREMYONG 25-LIBONG DOLYAR.

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