Using LEDs in Nets Reduces Bycatch, Study Finds

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. slash / ˈslæʃ / (v) – to lower the amount of something

    The store slashed the prices of its old items.

  2. cost-effective / ˈkɑːst ɪˈfɛktɪv / (adj) – can produce good results without spending a lot of money

    Using cheap but strong materials makes our production cost-effective.

  3. bread and butter / brɛd ænd ˈbʌtɚ / (idiom) – a person’s source of income

    My father’s bread and butter is fishing.

  4. skeptical / ˈskɛptɪkəl / (adj) – not convinced about something

    I am skeptical about the results of the study because the data is limited.

  5. viability / ˌvajəˈbɪləti / (n) – ability to succeed

    The experiment’s viability seems high because of the involvement of several experts.


Read the text below.

A study has found that bright light-emitting diodes (LEDs) attached to fishing nets can reduce the number of bycatches or animals accidentally caught by fishing equipment meant for other species.

A group of international scientists drew comparisons among 228 gillnets, which are frequently used to catch fish, in small fishing areas in Peru. The scientists discovered that using LEDs in nets slashed the number of seabird bycatch by 85%. A previous experiment by the same group also revealed that the said technique led to a 64% decrease in sea turtle bycatch.

Bycatches, which constitute 40% of all the world’s catches, are a growing global issue. Being accidentally caught in nets usually causes injuries and even death among animals, thus contributing to the decline in their population.

Although the reason why LEDs in nets can reduce bycatches remains unclear, the researchers believe that the technique can be an easy and cost-effective solution to bycatches. They also emphasized that the technique would not harm the bread and butter of fishermen since the number of the target species collected did not decrease during the experiments.

Nevertheless, the executive director of a US-based animal rights group is skeptical about using LEDs to reduce bycatches. According to Executive Director Todd Steiner, the technique may help reduce the capture of one species but can increase the catch of other species.

On a different note, the researchers are currently investigating if LEDs in nets can be used to protect other endangered species. They are also studying the effects of different colored lights and the viability of using the same technique in larger fisheries.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• In your opinion, should the technique of using LEDs in nets be promoted? Why or why not?
• What do you think could happen if the number of bycatches was not reduced? Explain.

Discussion B

• Aside from fishing, what do you think are other human activities that harm marine life? Discuss.
• What marine species would you like to protect? Why?