Testing seabird & turtle mitigation efficacy of the Smart Hook system
A pilot study Objectives: 1. Observe, document and record seabird behavioral responses to the Smart Hook and its effectiveness. 2. Observe, document & record turtle behavioral responses to the Smart Hook and its effectiveness. 3. Determine operational performance of the Smart Hook System in a commercial fishing operation. Outcomes: This project provides the necessary information and understanding for fisheries managers and the fishing industry to adopt the Smart Hook system as a method to prevent the capture of seabirds and turtles in longline fishing. The Smart Hook system demonstrated its effective ability to eliminate the capture of seabirds and turtles and performed well during the setting of tuna longlines. The demonstrated increase in the sink rate of the baited hook can reduce the seabirds’ access to the hook, providing confidence in its ability to be used as a mitigation method. Changes to the design were identified and successfully incorporated before the operational trials were performed. A notable increase in fish catch using the Smart Hook system, thought to be due to an increase in bait retention, can be an added incentive for fishermen to use the system. Discussions with fisheries managers and industry operators were positive and supportive, indicating a willingness to use the system. Implementation of the Smart Hook system will provide an additional environmental safe guard in the conservation of sea birds by reducing the mortalities due to the impacts of fishing. Large-scale use of the Smart Hook system can provide a new manufacturing industry, employment and exports for Australia.