Marine Institute to host Smartgear judging panel

Fishing net going outMarine Institute headquarters at Rinville, Co. Galway will host a preliminary meeting of the judging panel for the World Wildlife Fund Smart Gear Awards 2007 on 21 August this year.

The awards, which are designed to promote new designs of fishing gear that minimise negative effects on non-target species or the marine environment, are worth up to $30,000 to the overall winner, with two additional runner-up prizes of $10,000 and a further $5,000 UK prize sponsored by the Seafish Authority. Final judging will take place in Taiwan in September.  

The awards are supported by some twenty internationally established organisations including; The American Fisheries Society, The Bluewater Fishermens’ Association, the UK’s Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), the fish hook manufacturer Mustad and the global seafood enterprise Sealord Group.Deadline for applications, which can be made on  is 31st July  

The winners will be announced at the Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle on November 15 this year. The Smart Gear award scheme was itself recently recognised by the Fisheries Service of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) through is Sustainable Fisheries Leadership Award, which was presented last month in Washington, D.C..  

Speaking recently in the press, Kim Davis of the World Wildlife Fund said, “We are looking for something that is simple, inexpensive and easy to replicate. The winning idea should make the group of experts we have as judges sit up and say: ‘why didn’t we think of that ten years ago?’”  

The judging panel comprises of fishermen, scientists and policy makers from all over the world and includes the Marine Institute’s Dr. Norman Graham, who manages demersal fish stock assessment within the Institute’s Fisheries Science Services Team.  

Dr. Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute said, “We are honoured to be part of this innovative and internationally recognised award scheme, which is entirely consistent with our mandate to promote the sustainable development of our seas and oceans.”

  Winning designs in previous years include devices to deter sharks from attacking  tuna and swordfish baits with magnets, a method to prevent seabirds attacking longline baits as they are laid in the water, a grid to allow unwanted fish to escape from a fishing trawl unharmed, and ways of altering the chemical properties of fishing nets so that dolphins and other cetaceans do not become entangled in them.  


For further information, please contact; Dr. John Joyce – Communications Manager Phone: 087 2250871

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