Commend Scientists for New and Improved Fish Trap

Coral Reef

Target: Tim McClanahan and Ayana Elizabeth Johnson

Goal: Commend scientists for creating a fish trap that minimizes by catch

Scientist Tim McClanahan from the Wildlife Conservation Society and Ayana Elizabeth Johnson from the Kenyan Marine and Fisheries Research have developed a fish trap that catches large fish, while releasing smaller and non target fish back into the environment. This improvement will lessen the impact fishing has on the coastal reef system in Africa.

One of the obstacles that fishing presents is the impact it will have on the environment. By catch, which is the unwanted fish that are caught in commercial netting, undesirable to fishermen, but those species are still crucial for the aquatic ecosystem. Scientists from both of these societies were researching ways to lessen the impact, but still catch their targeted fish. Thus began the experiment, which was conducted in in a reef system near the coast of Mombasa, Kenya. The researches worked with an experienced fish trapper and incorporated the idea of an escape latch into the fish nets. The design kept commercially adult fish inside the net, while undersized and non target fish will able to escape.  The traps were then baited, set 30 meters apart from each other and testing began.

When the experiment concluded at 41 weeks, the scientists realized that their new trap caught more than 1,200 fish from 64 species. The fish averaged 31 percent longer and 55 percent heavier than the fish caught in regular traps. The regular traps – which were the control for the experiment – had smaller fish alongside fish that were important to the ecosystem of the reefs. The researchers are hoping that these new innovations will be used in other coastal regions around Africa. For their efforts, the two scientists also received $20,000 for conservation efforts regarding coastal fisheries. Sign the petition below and commend the duo for their conservation efforts.


Dear  Tim McClanahan and Ayana Elizabeth Johnson,

I am writing this letter to thank you for your conservation efforts regarding the coastal reefs of Africa. I am aware that you two created a new fish trap that reduces the impact fishing has aquatic environments. With the amount of pollution and debris that enters our oceans, it is imperative that fish and other marine wildlife are given every chance to survive. By ensuring that smaller fish and other non target fish don’t get caught in commercial fishing nets, you are are allowing the species to grow and thrive.

I hope that other coastal regions along Africa will utilize your new invention and I also hope to see the reef systems around Africa thrive because of your efforts.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Inaglory via Wikimedia

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