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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

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Hugh Bollinger
/ Categories: Uncategorized

Off the hook

Years ago, I was involved in international development projects relating to the environment. Back then, appropriate technology was the buzz-word in development circles-- the best technology being the simplest one to solve the specific problem --and I tried incorporating this thinking into the projects. A perfect example of this type of simple and cheap technology has just been introduced for fisheries management under new NOAA guidelines for fleets fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. Commercial fleets use long lines of hooks and end up catching way more than the intended fish. This bycatch has a large impact on non-target species such as turtles and sharks, is wasteful as the bycatch is just discarded, and environmentally destructive if lines are lost. It can be particularly harmful to blue-fin tuna, the critically overfished species that breeds in the Gulf. However, starting this month, NOAA has mandated that commercial vessels will need to use an improved hook that bends under the weight of a blue-fin but not the more plentiful yellow-fin tuna, the intended target. [caption id="attachment_3940" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="blue-fin safe fishing hook source: NOAA"][/caption] The new blue-fin safety hooks are a huge improvement over traditional fishing practices but the regulations for their use only apply to vessels within USA territorial waters. Blue-fin are a highly pelagic species and migrate over vast distances in the oceans. NOAA should encourage all fishing nations, international management agencies, and environmental conservation organizations to adopt this appropriate technology and get 'off the hook'. WHB
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