Building Better Fish Traps

October 8, 2013

New fish traps designed by researchers from WCS and the Kenyan Marine and Fisheries Research Institute keep big fish in and let non-target fish out.

In coastal fisheries, routine bycatch—small fish that get accidentally trapped with the species targeted—poses an unsustainable tax on fragile reef systems. The result is an unsustainable tax on fragile reef systems. But in a significant breakthrough, scientists from WCS and the Kenyan Marine and Fisheries Research Institute, have built a better fish trap to solve the challenge.

The modified African basket traps are iron-framed with netting and a single tube-shaped opening that leads into the middle of the trap. The built-in escape gaps allow the undersize fish to swim out, while keeping commercially valuable fish in. The escape gaps increase profits and minimize the impact of fishing on coastal reef systems – important developments for fishing communities that rely on the vital marine resources.

The groundbreaking traps were deployed and checked once daily between October 2010 and October 2011. After 41 weeks, the researchers found that the traps with escape gaps retained longer and heavier fish, with less bycatch. The innovative escape gap design was so unique it won top prize for conservation in the 2012 Solution Search: Turning the Tide for Coastal Fisheries sponsored by Rare, in partnership with National Geographic.

Read the press release>>
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