HomeInspireGood News

Good News: A new device could protect sharks from fishing hooks

BY Alice Gawthrop

24th Nov 2022 Good News

Good News: A new device could protect sharks from fishing hooks

With millions of sharks being caught annually in commercial fishing gear as bycatch around the world, a new device aims to deter them from fishing hooks

A new device known as SharkGuard is being trialled which emits a pulse to repel sharks and rays from fishing hooks. The data so far suggests that it has been very effective in reducing the number of sharks and stingrays caught by commercial fishing gear.

Why is commercial fishing harmful to sharks?

Commercial fishing is known to threaten sharks and rays worldwide. Research has found that 24 per cent of the mean monthly space used by sharks around the world falls under the footprint of pelagic longline fisheries. This is when hooks hang near the surface to catch fish like tuna and swordfish. A quarter of shark habitats are within active fishing zones.

"Over 20,000,000 sharks are caught as bycatch every year"

It is estimated that over 20,000,000 sharks are caught as bycatch every year. Stingrays are also frequently caught as bycatch. “Bycatch” refers to unwanted fish and marine creatures caught by commercial fishing gear, and is typically discarded overboard either dead or dying.  

What is SharkGuard?

SharkGuard was designed by marine scientists to deter shark and rays from fishing gear. It is a small battery-powered device that can be clipped on the line next to a baited hook and emits a short pulse every two seconds.

Stingrays

So far the data suggests that SharkGuard can prevent blue sharks and sting rays from becoming "bycatch"

A study found that the device reduced the number of blue sharks caught in a French longline tuna fishery in the Mediterranean by 91 per cent, and stingrays by 71 per cent. These are promising numbers, although Dr Phil Doherty, lead author of the study, told The Guardian that SharkGuard should “be designed on a case-by-case basis to ensure it’s fit for purpose.”

Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter

Loading up next...