$30,000 Prize for Winning Idea to Save Seas and Species

Posted on 07 February 2007

Gland, Switzerland – The third annual WWF International Smart Gear Competition which is being launched today seeks new designs for fishing gear that reduces marine bycatch – the accidental catch and related deaths of marine mammals, birds, sea turtles and fish species in fishing gear. Many millions of tonnes of what is caught in the course of fishing are thrown back into the sea dead, or dying, each year.

"We want to encourage people from different countries around the world to enter this competition to make fishing practices smarter," says James Leape, WWF's Director General. “WWF is working around the world to reduce the death and waste of seabirds, turtles, dolphins, juvenile fish and other animals through entanglement with fishing gear. Often the best innovations come from fishers themselves – this is a unique opportunity to hear about practical solutions to help tackle one of the greatest threats to our seas".

The winning designer will receive a $30,000 grand prize. There will also be two $10,000 runner-up prizes. Entries will be judged on whether they are innovative, practical, cost-effective, reduce bycatch of any species and make an important contribution to conservation. The judges include fishermen, researchers, engineers and fisheries managers from all over the world.

The competition is open to eligible entrants from any background-including fishermen, professional gear manufacturers, teachers, students, engineers, scientists and backyard inventors. Instructions for entering the competition are available at www.smartgear.org. Completed entries must be submitted by July 31, 2007.
“Bycatch is a serious threat to marine life that demands a wide-ranging, multidisciplinary response," said Bill Hogarth, director of NOAA Fisheries Service. "WWF's Smart Gear competition has been an effective way to catalyze that response by encouraging creative thinkers everywhere to share their ideas for minimizing bycatch.”

Last year’s winner was a New Jersey inventor who designed fishing gear that could save thousands of sharks from accidentally dying on fishing lines each year. The winner’s design uses a shark's ability to detect magnetic fields as a way to protect them by placing strong magnets just above baited hooks. The design will be tested this spring and summer in advance of potential commercial use.

For official competition rules and to learn how to enter, please visit www.smartgear.org. The competition begins February 7, 2007 and ends July 31, 2007. Employees, agents, current contractors, and relatives of employees of World Wildlife Fund, Inc. or any WWF National Organization are ineligible. Judges and relatives of Judges are also ineligible. The competition is void where prohibited. Odds depend on number of entries received. No purchase is necessary.

For more information:
Anshuman Atroley, Communications Manager
E-mail: aatroley@wwfindia.net

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