LED fishing nets could save turtles and dolphins

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Researchers at the University of Exeter and Peruvian NGO ProDelphinus have found that by putting LED lights on top of floating commercial fishing nets, the number of critically endangered species caught in them, can be reduced by 70 percent or more.

The research published in the journal Biological Conservation looked at small-scale vessels departing from three Peruvian ports between 2015 and 2018. LEDs were placed every 30 feet along the float line of 864 illuminated gillnets.

Each gillnet was paired with an unlit gillnet to compare the results. Eighty-six percent of the turtles caught in the unlit nets were green turtles, however, loggerhead and olive ridley turtles were also found in the nets.

Among the small cetaceans captured, 47 percent were long-beaked common dolphins, 26 percent were dusky dolphins and 24 percent were Burmeister's porpoises.

The findings also support previous research which suggested LED lights reduce bycatch of seabirds in gillnets by about 85 percent.

Just as warning lights warn people of danger, the animals were able to see the illuminated nets, furthermore, the light modification made no change to the amount of commercial catch fisherman caught.

RUNDOWN SHOWS:
1. Gillnet with attached LEDs
2. Fish avoid the deployed LED net
3. Comparison between unlit and lit nets
4. Fish swim into the lit net

VOICEOVER (in English):

"Researchers at the University of Exeter and Peruvian NGO ProDelphinus have found that by putting LED lights on top of floating commercial fishing nets, the number of critically endangered species caught in them, can be reduced by 70 percent or more."

"The research published in the journal Biological Conservation looked at small-scale vessels departing from three Peruvian ports between 2015 and 2018. LEDs were placed every 30 feet along the float line of 864 illuminated gillnets."

"Each gillnet was paired with an unlit gillnet to compare the results. Eighty-six percent of the turtles caught in the unlit nets were green turtles, however, loggerhead and olive ridley turtles were also found in the nets."

"Among the small cetaceans captured, 47 percent were long-beaked common dolphins, 26 percent were dusky dolphins and 24 percent were Burmeister's porpoises."

"The findings also support previous research which suggested LED lights reduce bycatch of seabirds in gillnets by about 85 percent."

"Just as warning lights warn of danger, the animals were able to see the illuminated nets, furthermore, the light modification made no change to the amount of commercial catch fisherman caught."

SOURCES: The Times, Biological Conservation
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/endangered-marine-species-see-the-light-q5t3glklr
https://www.exeter.ac.uk/news/research/title_769892_en.html