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Illumination of fishing nets

Improving the visibility of fishing gear

Fishing gear can be made more visible in the water by adding LED lights. By illuminating the net, non-target species are more likely to detect its presence and are therefore less likely to approach. However, lighting coloration choices have to be adapted to each group of animals, as lighting of fishing gear is thus effective in reducing bycatch of marine mammals, turtles and seabirds but can also increase bycatch of others species. Several devices exist, with different coloured lights, which should be adapted according to the gear, fishing practices and species to be alerted.

Tests on gillnets

Studies have been conducted in Peru and Mexico using LEDs on drift and bottom nets. The results showed a significant reduction in the incidental catch of turtles, seabirds and small cetaceans without reducing the catch rate of the target species. Although these returns are positive, further studies and data are needed to validate these initial results.

However, LEDs are not effective in all situations and are species dependent, as shown by tests in the Baltic Sea which resulted in an increase in the incidental catch of seabirds (diving ducks).

Finally, LEDs can be installed, in addition to other mitigation means such as pingers, to reduce bycatches of cetaceans. Trials are currently underway in the bottom gillnet fishery in the south-west of England to reduce catches of common dolphins on board small vessels.

Trawl tests underway

LEDs emitting flashes of light at different intensities and intervals are currently being studied in the Mediterranean to limit the capture of bottlenose dolphins in pelagic and bottom trawls within the framework of LIFE DELFI in Italian waters.

This sheet is proposed in the framework of the Cetambicion project (