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Prize-Winning Designs Make a Difference for Marine Life

The prize-winning designs for the WWF 2011 International Smart Gear Competition are outstanding examples of how ingenuity can effectively reduce bycatch, a significant threat to marine life.

An astonishing number of fish and animals are caught in fishing gear each year and thrown away as unwanted bycatch. The Smart Gear contest is open to all fishermen, students and those who wish to reduce the enormous environmental harm of bycatch on sea life.

Grand Prize Winner
This year’s $30,000 grand prize was awarded to Kazuhiro Yamazaki, a captain on a tuna vessel who also received a special tuna prize of $7,500, offered by the International Sustainable Seafood Foundation (ISSF).

Yamazaki’s design would reduce the amount of bycatch occurring in tuna fisheries – one of the top conservation priorities for WWF global fisheries. The ‘Yamazaki Double-Weight Branchline’ works by increasing the sinking rate of fishing gear, making it more difficult for seabirds to chase baited hooks. Used in conjunction with other devices it can reduce seabird mortality by almost 90%.

Two runners-up, each receiving $10,000 include the ‘SeaQualizer,’ designed to reduce fish mortality in the recreational fishing industry, and the ‘Turtle Lights for Gillnets’, aimed at reducing the capture of marine turtles in gillnets. This device reduced turtle interactions by up to 60% without affecting target catch rates or catch value.

Over the coming year, WWF will work with the inventors to develop these ideas further, enabling smarter fishing.

Learn more
Past SmartGear winning designs 
Details about the Yamazaki Double-Weight Branchline (PDF, 1.67 MB)
Details about the SeaQualizer (PDF, 659.59 KB)
Details about Turtle Lights for Gillnets (PDF, 1.20 MB)