18 Nov 2011:
Award-Winning Fisheries Design
Reduces Bird Mortality by 90 Percent
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
The double-weight branch line
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 gillnets that are fixed with alert lights to scare off sea turtles that might otherwise become entangled. WWF plans to work with the designers to further develop these innovations.
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Photographer Robert Wintner documents the exquisite beauty and biodiversity of Cuba’s coral reefs, which are largely intact thanks to stifled coastal development in the communist nation. View the gallery.
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The Warriors of Qiugang
, a Yale Environment 360
video, chronicles a Chinese village’s fight against a polluting chemical plant. It was nominated for a 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.
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A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.