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Reducing Bycatch Through Innovation

August 25, 2022

Innovations in gear help reduce bycatch across the country.

Oceanic whitetip shark swimming in deep ocean waters. Oceanic whitetip shark. Hawaiʻi longline fishermen use leaders to connect weighed branch lines and baited hooks. A new rule prohibits steel wire leaders in the Hawaiʻi deep-set longline fishery, starting May 31, 2022. The rule aims to increase the survival of hooked oceanic whitetip sharks caught as bycatch in the Pacific Islands region. Credit: Andy Mann

The term bycatch refers to the unintended capture of a species that occurs while fishing for a targeted species. While all fisheries produce bycatch, it can have a serious impact on marine species or slow the restoration of fisheries that have been damaged. On this episode of Dive In with NOAA Fisheries, we discuss bycatch reduction efforts through the lens of innovation rather than just more regulations. Preventing bycatch entirely may be impossible, but it can be managed, accounted for, and at least mitigated through innovative approaches.

A yellowfin tuna caught on greenstick gear is hauled onto the F/V Queensland. Greenstick gear is a type of gear tested by fishermen in the Oceanic Fish Restoration Project. © Jay Fleming

Listen in to explore examples of how NOAA is working to reduce bycatch across the country, supporting the development of:

  • The Oceanic Fish Restoration Project, a program in the Gulf of Mexico that partners with pelagic long-line fishermen to reduce pressure on pelagic fish and to test alternative gear

  • Bycatch Reduction Devices that work with trawl nets

  • Turtle Excluder Devices aimed specifically at protecting sea turtles

  • A new excluder device that can distinguish between pollock and salmon based on their different behaviors

  • A switch in gear in the Hawaii deep-set long-line fishery shown to improve survival of hooked oceanic whitetip sharks

  • The "Return 'Em Right" program, which helps anglers learn and deploy best practices for catch an release fishing to combat barotrauma, and provides free training and free gear to prevent bycatch mortalities 

Last updated by Office of Communications on August 25, 2022

Bycatch Reduction Week