Analysis of permanent magnets as elasmobranch bycatch reduction devices in hook-and-line and longline trials
Previous studies indicate that elasmobranch fishes (sharks, skates and rays) detect the Earth's geomagnetic field by indirect magnetoreception through electromagnetic induction, using their ampullae of Lorenzini. Applying this concept, we evaluated the capture of elasmobranchs in the presence of permanent magnets in hook-and-line and inshore longline fishing experiments. Hooks with neodymium-iron-boron magnets significantly reduced the capture of elasmobranchs overall in comparison with control and procedural control hooks in the hook-and-line experiment. Catches of Atlantic sharpnose shark (Rhizoprionodon terraenovae) and smooth dogfish (Mustelus canis) were significantly reduced with magnetic hook-and-line treatments, whereas catches of spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) and clearnose skate (Raja eglanteria) were not. Longline hooks with barium-ferrite magnets significantly reduced total elasmobranch capture when compared with control hooks. In the longline study, capture of blacktip sharks (Carcharhinus limbatus) and southern stingrays (Dasyatis americana) was reduced on magnetic hooks, whereas capture of sandbar shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus) was not affected. Teleosts, such as red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus), Atlantic croaker (Micropogonias undulatus), oyster toadfish (Opsanustau), black sea bass (Centropristis striata), and the bluefish (Pomatomas saltatrix), showed no hook preference in either hook-and-line or longline studies. These results indicate that permanent magnets, although eliciting species-specific capture trends, warrant further investigation in commercial longline and recreational fisheries, where bycatch mortality is a leading contributor to declines in elasmobranch populations.