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How LED Technology is Casting a New Light on Fishing

November 6, 2023

As the harbors of Scotland’s west coast brace against the early morning rain, there’s a quiet revolution brewing in the waters of Largs Boat Harbour. It’s here, against the timeless backdrop of the churning sea, that tradition meets innovation at the edge of a fisherman’s net.

Ian Wightman, with nearly four decades of seafaring behind him, is leading this gentle rebellion. Well before the sun pierces the horizon, Ian is out on the River Clyde, but his daily venture for langoustines is not just a quest for sustenance — it’s a pledge for sustainability.

The secret to this transformation? It lies in the shimmering LEDs that adorn his nets, a product of SafetyNet Technologies’ vision to mesh ecological responsibility with fishing efficiency. This technology is a testament to human ingenuity, proving that necessity can indeed be the mother of invention.

As we follow Ian’s story, we learn that these LED lights are more than mere twinkles in the maritime expanse. They are precision tools, designed to address the critical issue of bycatch — a term that paints a stark picture of collateral damage in the fishing industry. The inadvertent capture of dolphins, sea turtles, and other non-target species in fishing gear is not just an ethical dilemma; it’s an ecological emergency.

Through the amber light of the Scottish dawn, Ian’s nets, now equipped with LED lights, become a selective gateway. They guide coveted seafood like langoustines and squid to their new destiny, while simultaneously acting as deterrents to the marine life we aim to protect.

This narrative extends far beyond Largs. In the Sea of Cortez, researchers and local fishermen, guided by studies from Arizona State University, have seen a 63% reduction in bycatch thanks to these luminous aides. Furthermore, the time savings for fishermen have been substantial, reducing the grueling hours spent disentangling unwanted guests from their nets.

The efforts of Ian Wightman and his contemporaries are not isolated. They are part of a concerted global push by organizations like the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and companies like Good Machine from San Francisco. Their mission? To fine-tune this LED technology to balance the scales between profitable fishing and marine conservation.

What we’re witnessing here is the blueprint of a movement — one that calls not for the abandonment of a centuries-old livelihood but for its evolution. As the WWF explores the ideal spacing of these lights, aiming to protect turtles with the use of green LEDs, the goal is to make these interventions as cost-effective as they are life-saving.

Ian’s boat may be just a speck against the vastness of the ocean, but his actions are part of a swelling tide. Every LED light that submerges into the Scottish waters represents hope — hope that innovation can turn the tide, ensuring that the oceans teem with life for generations to come.

In telling this tale, we see a world where the technology doesn’t eclipse the human spirit but rather enhances it. It’s a chronicle of survival, both of the fisherman and the fauna that share his watery realm. This isn’t just a narrative of Scotland’s waters, it’s a global story of harmony — a story where the glow of progress emanates from the most unlikely of places: a fisherman’s net.

Original Article: https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-67093211

Photo by Krisztian Tabori on Unsplash

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