Selective fishing gear

WWF and its partners are key players in the global effort to replicate existing bycatch solutions and develop new ones.
We work directly with fisheries, governments, academia, and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to find, develop, test, and implement new fishing gear that reduces the accidental capture of unwanted animals (bycatch).

Examples of this work include:

  • Promoting existing solutions: For example, we are promoting the use of circle hooks and turtle excluder devices (TEDs) to help reduce bycatch of marine turtles on longlines and in shrimp trawls, respectively.
  • Finding new solutions: WWF is working to inspire and reward new ideas for selective fishing gear through the International Smart Gear Competition. Launched in 2004 in partnership with industry leaders, scientists, and fishers, this annual competition encourages creative solutions that will allow fishers to fish smarter - better targeting their intended catch while safeguarding other ocean creatures.
  • Supporting like-minded groups: WWF also supports other groups that similarly work with fisheries to test and implement new types of fishing gear, such as SeaNet (Australia), Southern Seabird Solutions (Southern Ocean), and the Agreement on the International Dolphin Conservation Programme (AIDCP; Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean).
A combination turtle excluder device/bycatch reduction device manufactured by Saunders Marine ... / ©: NOAA
A combination turtle excluder device/bycatch reduction device manufactured by Saunders Marine Machine Shop. Turtles escape by swimming forward and out of the large holes in the net. Shrimp are swept into the bag at the end of the net and cannot swim out.
There is growing acceptance by fishing industry leaders of the need to modify fishing gear and practices in order to reduce bycatch.

Proven solutions exist to both catch fewer non-target species and allow non-target species to escape - and many more are in development. Usually, the best innovations come from fishers themselves. And in many cases, the modifications are simple and inexpensive.

Smart Gear: safer, smarter fishing

Logo for Smart Gear Competition / ©: Smart Gear
Logo for Smart Gear Competition
© Smart Gear

The International Smart Gear Competition looks for practical, cost-effective, and innovative designs that reduce the incidental catch and mortality of marine turtles, cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises), non-target fish, and other non-target species in fishing gear such as nets and longlines.

The competition is open to all - fishers, professional gear manufacturers, teachers, students, engineers, scientists, and backyard inventors. The grand prize includes money to fund activities, such as testing and marketing, that will increase the likelihood that the idea will become widely available.

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