John West Conservation Projects

Tuna By-catch Reduction through Smart Gear (International Competition)

Encouraging innovation to reduce fisheries by-catch

At John West, we realise improving fishing gear is a key step in reducing by-catch (‘by-catch’ is the unintended capture of non-target fish species). Modifying fishing gear can increase the chances of escape for non-target species or, better yet, reduce their capture in the first place. Some of the best by-catch solutions to date have come from fishers themselves and simple, inexpensive innovations already operate effectively in many fisheries.

WWF’s International Smart Gear competition encourages innovative ideas with practical applications for fishing “smarter”. As tuna is a major commodity as well as a core product for John West, this year we offered a special prize for by-catch reduction ideas specific to tuna fisheries. 

We are delighted to announce that the winner of the John West Special Tuna Prize for 2014 was the “SeaBird Saver”, developed by Marine Biologist Ernst Schrijver. The SeaBird Saver is a bird-deterrent which uses an innovative laser system and optional acoustic stimulus to actively deter birds from flying into zones around fishing operations which could be dangerous to them. In reducing bird by-catch and fatalities, the SeaBird Saver also improves the catch for fishermen.

See the SeaBird Saver in action

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