2011 WWF competition to net best hook, line and sinker announced
Leading entries in the fifth International Smart Gear Competition will be in the running for $US 57,500 in prizes. The competition will be accepting submissions from March 1 to Aug. 31, 2011.
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’.
“WWF’s goal with the Smart Gear competition is to inspire innovative ideas for environmentally-friendly fishing gear,” said Dr. Bill Fox, Vice President of Fisheries for WWF-US.
“In addition to fishermen losing millions of dollars each year due to bycatch, many other species, including endangered marine life, are unintentionally and needlessly killed by antiquated fishing gear.”
“This competition identifies real-world solutions so fishermen can fish ‘smarter’ – allowing them to maintain a commercially viable business while helping to maintain ocean health.”
Used in fisheries around the world
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” - a winning idea from 2007 designed to reduce the bycatch of cod - is now being used by fishermen in the north eastern U.S. haddock fishery, as well as being adopted by the EU as a mandatory 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.
"Smart Gear is an incredibly inspiring initiative” said Dr. Robin Davies, Deputy Leader of WWFs Smart Fishing Initiative. “The competition is proof-positive that many talented individuals and groups the world-over are willing to apply their skills to solving this problem.”
The 2011 Smart Gear Competition is offering a grand prize of $30,000 and two $10,000 runner-up prizes. Additionally, in partnership with the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF), the competition is offering a $7,500 special tuna prize that will be awarded to the idea that will reduce the amount of bycatch found in tuna fisheries.
Tuna sustainability is a top WWF global fisheries conservation priority.
“The real work starts the day after the prizes are awarded” said Fox. “WWF then works with each of the winners to bring their ideas to life and implemented in fisheries around the world.”
Addressing a critical issue
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.
Some turtle populations are also being pushed to the brink by fishing, with over 250,000 endangered loggerhead turtles and critically endangered leatherback turtles being caught annually on longlines set for tuna, swordfish, and other fish.
Thousands more are killed in tropical shrimp trawls - a particularly unselective form of fishing that drags a net over the seabed, resulting in as much as 17kg of bycatch for every kilogram of target catch.
Nor are birds immune, with more than 300,000 seabirds killed each year in longlines, including endangered albatross species.
Some 89 per cent of hammerhead sharks and 80 per cent of thresher and white sharks have disappeared from the north east Atlantic Ocean in the last 18 years, largely due to bycatch.
Fondation Segré, International Seafood Sustainability Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans are supporting this year’s competition.
The competition begins March 1, 2011 and ends on 31 Aug. 31, 2011. Employees, agents, current contractors, and relatives of employees of WWF are ineligible. Judges and relatives of judges are also ineligible. The competition is void where prohibited. Odds depend on number of entries received. No purchase is necessary.