PERREAULT Magazine October 2014 - Page 29

Hookpods catch fish, not birds. There's no ocean waste and fishermen save money. Currently, 15 out of 22 species of albatrosses and six out of seven marine turtle species are threatened with extinction. By far the biggest threat faced by many albatross and other seabirds is death on tuna and swordfish longline fishing hooks.

The Hookpod is a new fisheries invention that’s small in size, big in innovation and has huge implications for saving the albatross from extinction.

In the time it’s taken you read this article, an albatross will have died on a fishing hook. As the name suggests, the longline fishing technique involves very long lines of baited hooks - a single vessel may use a line extending 130 km, from which can hang as many as 10-20,000 hooks, each baited with a piece of fish or squid. In many of these fisheries a disposable chemical lightstick is attached above the hook to attract bait fish. Millions of these plastic, single-use lightsticks are oftendiscarded into the sea. Lots of things eat them, causing death in a number of horrid ways.

Every year tuna longliners set about three billion hooks, killing an estimated 300,000 seabirds every year, of which 100,000 are albatrosses. Death in these longline fisheries poses one of the greatest threats to the majority of these listed species.When baited hooks are set from the stern of the vessel and before they sink they are still visible near the sea's surface. At this stage, foraging birds spot them and try to grab the bait before it sinks. They can become hooked, dragged under and drowned.

The Hookpod has been designed to reduce the number of birds killed to near zero. It achieves this by enclosing the point and barb of the hook as it enters the water, making it impossible for birds to become hooked. The pod has a pressure mechanism which opens on reaching fishing depth and the baited hook is released to begin fishing.

It’s clever…really clever! There’s a whole load of techy details available, but in short it keeps birds off hooks, opens underwater, has a light in it and means fishermen can catch fish and not other stuff. Recently the HOOKPOD team ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to procure funds to begin mass production of the HOOKPODS, to distribute them to fishermen for commercial scale trials, saving albatross and proving to the fishing world that this is an answer that will work for fishermen and wildlife.

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