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How Light Can Help the Fishing Industry

Fish species differ greatly in their reactions to light. U.K.-based start-up SafetyNet Technologies is applying this theory to the problem of bycatch.

British startup SafetyNet Technologies is using light to develop a potential new solution to one of the fishing industry’s biggest problems: bycatch. Bycatch—the fish, turtles, seabirds, dolphins, and other types of marine life that end up caught in fishing nets and then discarded—has both environmental and economic consequences. It damages marine ecosystems and adds cost to the fishing industry. According to Oceana, around 20 percent of the catch in United States fisheries is thought to be of unintended species. Worldwide, it could be as much as 40 percent.

SafetyNet recently developed PISCES, a light-emitting device that fits existing nets and helps fishermen target certain species. It is based on the theory that fish vary in their reactions to light, with different types of light attracting some species and repulsing others. It is designed to be flexible and comes in different shapes and sizes to accommodate a variety of equipment. PISCES is also programmable, allowing the user to choose specifications such as the type of light, its intensity, and the flash rate.

Other solutions for bycatch, such as turtle excluder devices or the Nordmore grate, tend to involve gear adapted to particular fishing environments. These devices...

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