An innovative fishing net that allows small, unwanted fish to escape won a contest by RARE Conservation and National Geographic.
The winning entry was developed by Tim McClanahan and co-investigator Avana Johnson. McClanahan and Johnson developed their net through studies in Curaçao and Kenya with the Wildlife Conservation Society.
The above video depicts a fish trap in Curaçao that does not contain escape gaps. The net contains over 20 ornamental fish, including butterfly fish and several damsel fish, that could have escaped if the trap had gaps.
The contest, entitled “Solution Search: Turning the Tide for Coastal Fisheries”, aimed to find solutions to overfishing. McClanahan and Johnson’s winning trap is inexpensive and low-tech, which means it can easily be maintained in developing countries. The unique, geometric net design has strategically placed gaps for juvenile fish to swim out. These gaps reduce unwanted bycatch by 80 percent.
As the grand prize winners, McClanahan and Johnson received a $20,000 to support its conservation and resource management initiative.
"For too long the conservation community has focused on problems," said Brett Jenks, president and CEO of RARE Conservation. Jenks believes that the contest winners and finalist prove that tangible solutions are out there. Jenks continues, “By sharing their solutions with the world, they are improving conservation everywhere."
This is the first year the contest has taken place and over 100 applications were sent in. To read more about the contest, visit the RARE Conservation website.