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Prevent ghost fishing by fabricating fish and lobster trap self-destruct devices that work.

Posted by David Kushner | , United States

Regulations exist in California and other locations around the world that require fish and invertebrate traps to self-destruct when lost/abandoned with the intention to reduce “ghost fishing” or the inadvertent capture of marine organisms. However, self-destruct devices that are currently being used typically take months or more than a year to activate or destruct which allows lost fishing gear to continue to fish, resulting in ineffective regulations. Ghost fishing negatively affects the ecosystem and fishers through the extraction of fishers resources that cannot be utilized and often includes non-target species of fish, invertebrates, sea birds and occasionally marine mammals. Research is urgently needed to develop low cost, easy to use self-destruct devices made of materials that work for specific ocean conditions. These devices should activate following a short period of time (i.e. several days) after traps are legally allowed to be left in place without being retrieved. Research to determine appropriate materials and configurations for self-destruction implements would likely require a multidisciplinary team of materials scientists, ocean engineers, marine managers and fishers to solve this problem. The development and implementation of effective self-destruct devices have the potential to benefit marine ecosystems globally due to the widespread use of fish and invertebrate traps. Creating a solution for this is likely a win-win by creating a less wasteful fishery to fishers and protecting marine biodiversity by reducing the mortality of non-target or out of season resources.

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