New Shark-Repellent Fishing Hook Will Minimize Accidential Shark Catches

shark with hook photo

Photo by robstephaustralia via Flickr CC

Even if you're a friend of sharks, if you like fishing in the open sea you run the risk of snagging a shark here and there. And if you're a commercial fisherman, you're no stranger to sharks showing up as a significant part of your bycatch. It's estimated that tens of millions of sharks end up as accidental bycatch every year. However, a new high-tech fish hook could help keep sharks safer from fishing lines. The SMART hooks are magnetic and have a special metal coating that produces a voltage in seawater.As we know, sharks are highly sensitive to electronic fields in the water -- picking up the electronic fields produced by fishes' bodies is how they're able to locate prey. Live Science reports that the SMART Hook, an acronym for Selective Magnetic and Repellent-Treated Hook, will help keep sharks away from the fishing lines intended for other species of fish. The hooks' magnetic and electronic features are intended to make sharks want to stay well away from them, even if there is bait attached.

The SMART hooks have been tested with bonnethead sharks, and the researchers saw success. Of 50 different tests with two groups of sharks, there was a 66% reduction rate of baits taken from small sized SMART hooks (which would be used for recreational fishing) and a 94% reduction rate of baits taken from large sized hooks that would be used in commercial fishing.

This could mean a fantastic reduction of accidental shark catches, especially with longline fishing. Longlines use thousands of baited hooks on a single line to try and catch a particular species of fish such as tuna. However, sharks much on the bait just as often. By using these shark-repellent hooks, the number of sharks caught on longlines could be cut way down. Of course, it does nothing for reducing the number of sharks caught by those who are out to catch them. But it's good news for reducing the occurrence of bycatch.

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