By Laine Welch
December 05, 2005
Accidentally catching sea birds, marine mammals, sea turtles, small fish or non-target species with fishing gear called bycatch - is a major problem around the world. The WWF believes working with the industry is the best way to achieve mutual goals that protect marine life and promote sustainable fisheries. "We want to inspire and reward new ideas to reduce bycatch. Our thinking is that we can accomplish a lot more by working together to change fishing to make it smarter," said Kim Davis, director of WWF's marine conservation program.
Davis said the most innovative and practical ideas are often the most effective. "Big fancy, expensive solutions won't be as helpful to all of us as something that is simple and powerful," she said in a phone interview from Washington, DC. The 2005 Smart Gear winner, for example, (Steve Beverly of New Caledonia) weighted hook and line gear to get it out faster and deeper (to 300 feet). That simple modification resulted in fewer takes of sea turtles and increased tuna catches. With support from WWF, the gear is being tested on a large scale in both Hawaii and Australia. Beverly has also produced a brochure titled "Setting your longline deep: Catch more target fish and avoid bycatch by using a new gear design."
The $5,000 winners included an American and Canadian team who combined glowing ropes and stiffer webbing that helped marine mammals detect and avoid gillnets. And a group of scientists from India developed a system of angled metal grids and net meshes that allowed small fish and shrimp to swim free. WWF"s Kim Davis said the goal is to "share the ideas with fishing fleets around the world and get the new gear out on the water."
The 2005 contest attracted
50 entries from 16 countries, of which 13 came from the U.S.
WWF hopes to get 100 entries this time around. "We think
that most of the good ideas will come from fishermen who really
know the gear and have done a lot of thinking over the years
about how it can be changed to fish cleaner," Davis said.
The winners of the WWF International Smart Gear Competition will
be decided by a diverse set of judges, including fishermen, researchers,
engineers and fisheries managers from all over the world. Information
and entry forms (in several languages) are available at www.smartgear.org.
Deadline to enter the contest is March 15, 2006.
Assuming the region's fishermen vote to approve a tax on their catches, it will provide several hundred thousand dollars each year for marketing projects. Decker said what many don't realize is that RSDA's also open the door for federal and state grant dollars. The reason? A lot of federal funds go into the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture that now includes fishing.
Gig Decker said: "The power of an RSDA is much greater than just collecting assessments and doing advertising. If we feel there needs to be a cold storage or more docks or things like that, as a region we can prioritize our infrastructure developments and lobby directly for funds. RSDA's can also help develop business plans, change the way fisheries are managed, and most importantly, direct the flow of money into significant projects that will benefit our whole region."
The Copper River/Prince William
Sound fishermen have already voted on a one percent tax to fund
their RSDA. The Bristol Bay and Southeast groups will vote on
an assessment in the spring.
Vending machines in England and Ireland are serving up a "think drink" called SupaJus. It's packed with fish oil, but reportedly tastes just like orange juice. Created by Scotland's Natural Fruit and Beverage Company, one pouch of SupaJus contains half the recommended daily intake of omega three's and DHA and is also fortified with vitamin E and green tea. The SupaJus, which sells for about $1.40, is being targeted toward children and pregnant women.
Finally, seafood ice cream
has become a popular seller in Taiwan, where 13 different flavors
are offered under the brand name of Doctor Ice. The flavors,
which include pineapple shrimp, wasabi cuttlefish, strawberry
tuna and mango seaweed, come in stark colors ranging from orange
to green and the most popular - black. The ice cream sells for
just over $1 dollar per scoop, and is topped with sprinkles of
dried fish, roe or chopped squid. The novel dessert was created
two years ago by a woman named Liny Hsueh, who is expanding to
a second outlet and adding scallops as the newest flavor to her
seafood ice cream line up.
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