A research conducted by scientists at the University of Exeter has revealed that putting lights on fishing nets can be instrumental in lowering the number of sea turtles that are unintentionally caught in nets during fishing sessions. The researchers carried out their study in Sechura Bay located in northern Peru. ProDelphinus, which is the UK Government’s Darwin Initiative and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, provided funds for the research.
“The turtle populations in the eastern Pacific are among the world’s most vulnerable and we are hoping that by reducing bycatch, particularly in gillnets, will help with the management and eventual recovery of these populations”, said one of the lead authors, Jeffrey Mangel, a Darwin Initiative research fellow based in Peru.
Sea turtles are enlisted under endangered species and are accidentally caught in nets and in the absence of the ability to come to surface for air, thousands of them die annually.
The study involved the use of 114 pairs of net of nearly 500 meters. While one net in the pair had green light-emitting diodes (LEDs) positioned after every 10 meters along their floatline, the other net in the pair was left non-illuminated. The experiment revealed that the nets with LEDs caught only 62 green turtles and the ones without lights caught 125 of them.
The LED lights had no impact on the number of fish caught. The researchers suggested that an economical solution to safeguard sea turtles could be waiting in the form of LEDs, without having negative impact on the fishing industry that is extremely critical for Peru.
Peruvian coastal waters are the habitat for sea turtles and also an extremely active fishing location for fishermen in Peru. Gillnets are utilized by fishermen to catch guitarfish and other marine life for commercial and personal purposes. Annually, fishermen set approximately 100,000 square kilometers of net.
Posted by: Karan Gosal