A new system for longline fishing that reduces seabird mortality by nearly 90 percent in tuna fisheries was named the winner of the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Smart Gear contest, an international competition that
recognizes innovations to reduce by-catch mortality in the fishing industry. The fishing line, designed by Japanese tuna vessel captain Kazuhiro Yamazaki, uses a double-weight lead configuration to increase the sinking rate of the gear, and thus makes it more difficult for foraging seabirds to chase the baited hooks. According to WWF, the fishing line was used more than 95,000 times in 2010, reducing seabird bycatch by 89 percent with no injuries to fishers and no effect on fish catch rates. Hundreds of thousands of seabirds, including albatrosses and petrels, are killed every year when they are hooked on long-line fishhooks and drown. The runner-up designs include a pressure-activated tool that releases unintended fish catches at lower depths rather than at the surface, which reduces mortality, and gill nets fixed with lights to scare off sea turtles that might otherwise become entangled.