Two-Minute Takeaway: What is Bycatch?

Writing by Claire Dawson, Hershman Policy Fellow
Graphic by Erica Simek Sloniker

Fishing gear is very good at catching our food, but unfortunately it ends up catching a lot of what is swimming nearby as well. This unintended catch is termed bycatch. Notable types of bycatch are sharks, turtles, dolphins and seabirds.

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Reducing bycatch in fisheries is essential: Every year, bycatch further reduces numbers of several critically endangered species and affects marine food webs around the globe.

Bycatch-reduction modifications to fishing gear are required in several fisheries, and many efforts are under way to develop, test and deploy gear that further reduces bycatch. Successes include turtle-exclusion devices and efforts by The Nature Conservancy in Washington to develop, alongside many partners, a better way of catching lingcod while avoiding bycatch of rebuilding rockfish populations.

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