Exploring sensory biology & bycatch mitigation

One of the ways to reduce bycatch is to make fishing gear more selective. This incentive has fuelled research to identify and exploit differences in the sen­sory biology and/or behaviours of target and non-target spe­cies. Such knowledge can be used to modify gear in ways that deter non-target species while maintaining, or even increasing, target catches. Examples include deterring sharks from baited hooks by incorporating magnets and rare earth metals into longline fishing gear, or using artificial baits. Horodysky et al (2016) give a neat overview of the success or otherwise of “the interdisciplinary development and testing of sensory-based bycatch-reduction strategies in pelagic fisher­ies” spanning “the auditory, chemoreceptive (olfactory and gustatory), visual, and electroreceptive senses”. Other references below provide a useful introduction to directions in bycatch sensory biology research.

  1. Horodysky AZ, Cooke SJ, Graves JE, Brill RW (2016) Fisheries conservation on the high seas: linking conservation physiology and fisheries ecology for the management of large pelagic fishes. Conserv Physiol 4:cov059. doi: 10.1093/conphys/cov059
  2. Jordan LK, Mandelman JW, McComb DM, et al (2013) Linking sensory biology and fisheries bycatch reduction in elasmobranch fishes: a review with new directions for research. Conservation Physiology 1:20. doi: 10.1093/conphys/cot002
  3. Løkkeborg S, Siikavuopio SI, Humborstad O-B, et al (2014) Towards more efficient longline fisheries: fish feeding behaviour, bait characteristics and development of alternative baits. Rev Fish Biol Fisheries 24:985–1003. doi: 10.1007/s11160-014-9360-z
  4. Southwood A, Fritsches K, Brill R, Swimmer Y (2008) Sound, chemical, and light detection in sea turtles and pelagic fishes: sensory-based approaches to bycatch reduction in longline fisheries. Endangered Species Research 5:225–238. doi: 10.3354/esr00097
  5. Swimmer Y, Brill RW (2006) Sea turtle and pelagic fish sensory biology: developing techniques to reduce sea turtle bycatch in longline fisheries. US Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center

BMIS descriptions of bycatch Mitigation Techniques that aim to exploit differences in the physiology and sensory biology of target and vulnerable bycatch species include: artificial baits, auditory and chemical deterrents and attractors, decoys, dyed bait, light cues, and magnetic and rare earth metals.

The 'Smart Hook' image is taken from O’Connell CP, He P, Joyce J, et al (2014) Effects of the SMARTTM (Selective Magnetic and Repellent-Treated) hook on spiny dogfish catch in a longline experiment in the Gulf of Maine. Ocean & Coastal Management 97:38–43. doi: 10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2012.08.002