Help sew a turtle exclusion device into a fishing net.
There has been a lot of media coverage recently about the impact of fishing on marine life and the balance of the oceans, especially trawl fishing. But could a team of Sabah-based scientists offer a comprehensive solution? Seaspiracy, Netflix’s recent documentary certainly opened the debate on the commercial fishing industry, causing a lot of negativity and fear. It’s hard not to worry with quotes such as: “If current fishing trends continue, we will see virtually empty oceans by 2048”, coming from Ali Tabrizi, the film’s director and narrator .
But here in Sabah there is a team offering hope, solutions and a better future for fishermen and marine life. In the latest episode of Scubazoo’s Borneo Ocean Diaries (BOD), local presenter Alex Alexander boards a fishing boat, pulls out his seasickness pills, and heads out to the ocean to learn more about it. trawling industry, the threat to wildlife posed by fishing nets. and what solutions are explored. After researching the latest episode of BOD, Alex wants to learn more about the specific threats to sea turtles caused by shrimp trawlers. Liyana Izwin Khalid, Conservation Officer at the Marine Research Foundation (MRF), based in Kota Kinabalu, joins Alex on his new voyage of discovery. Liyana highlighted the problem faced by turtles; “Trawl fishing is considered to be one of the world’s biggest fishing threats to marine turtles. Every year, thousands of sea turtles get trapped in fishing nets and eventually drown because they are unable to reach the surface to breathe. As the fishing industry has grown rapidly around the world, bycatch (or bycatch) in fisheries has become a significant threat. Malaysia’s fishing industry is dominated by trawl fishing, contributing almost 50% of total fish landings. This of course contributes to a high mortality rate of marine turtles accidentally caught in these fishing nets, especially by shrimp trawler fleets – because turtles and shrimp share the same habitat ”. Worryingly, it is estimated that between 2,000 and 3,000 turtles are caught as bycatch in Malaysia alone each year. With nearly every species of sea turtle now listed as endangered, numbers like these don’t promise a happy future for these majestic and ancient sailors.
But the MRF team is working hard to find solutions, and they’ve come up with a cheap, convenient, and easy way to help reduce the number of turtles trapped in fishing nets. This is thanks to the ingenious Turtle Exclusion Devices, or TED for short. Liyana explained how these work and how they benefit more than just turtles, “The use of TED offers inexpensive solutions to reduce the loss of endangered sea turtles, support the livelihoods of local fishing communities while preserving the marine environment and fishing, ensuring food sustainability.
A TED is a simple metal grid frame that fits into the narrow neck of trawls. The grid allows catches such as shrimp and fish to pass to the cod from the net (where fish and shrimp are caught), while large marine life like sea turtles is ejected by a flap system . Plus, as an added bonus, debris and waste is excluded, saving fishermen money and sorting time. But it’s not just a group of scientists performing tests under experimental conditions. The MRF team has been working closely with fishermen since 2007 to showcase the many benefits of using TEDs, including improved catch quality and fuel savings while reducing unwanted catches and debris. For example, many trawl fishermen in Sabah are already voluntarily adding TEDs to their nets and are seeing positive results. A local company, Widegrowth Marine, goes one step further and works with the MRF team to make their fishing fleet more sustainable overall. With the extensive training and workshops held in recent years, the project is really gaining momentum. “Today, unknown TEDs have become a common acronym among Malaysian fishermen,” Liyana continues, “this project is also supported by the Department of Fisheries of Malaysia (DOFM) in developing a long-term national program. reduction in bycatch. After a series of successful events, TEDs became legally mandatory in shrimp trawling in four Malaysian states (Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and Johor) in 2017, saving at least 1,000 turtles from sea per year. It is only a matter of time before it becomes a full national adoption. After learning a lot about FRM and the use of TEDs to help turtles and reduce bycatch in general, Alex was eager to understand how and why Liyana got involved in the project. It turned out to be a love of the ocean and a desire to make a positive difference, as she explained: “Dr. Nick Pilcher, the founder of MRF, introduced me to the TED project. ; he explained to me what it was about and I was intrigued. I realized that this TED project is not only having a major impact on sea turtles, but also offers a bigger focus for the livelihoods of fishermen and the sustainability of our ocean. I’ve been the coordinator of MRF’s TEDs project since 2017. ”Liyana believes the work they are doing could pave the way for new industry standards in the commercial trawler industry. “This project is more than fair for Sabah and the whole country. There are only a few examples of successful bycatch mitigation programs in South East Asia, although there have been a number of short-term projects and trials. Few of these have led to large-scale adoption, government legislation, and membership by fishermen. This project has since become the benchmark initiative across the greater South East Asia region, promoting marine turtle conservation at the regional level, with Malaysia in the lead! “Sea turtles are an iconic species in Malaysia. They are one of the main attractions of our tourism industry, ambassadors of the marine life of our tropical waters, and they are even on our 20 ringgit bill! While they are threatened on so many fronts, it is reassuring to know that we have an inexpensive solution to the problem – the Turtle Guard! With the passion and drive coming from Liyana in statements like this, there is indeed hope that Sabah can lead the way in marine conservation. Many scientists in Sabah are undertaking groundbreaking research that contributes to our understanding of the global marine environment. Over the next few episodes of Borneo Ocean Diaries, Alex will continue to champion their work and learn more about the marine life around us. The new Borneo Ocean Diaries series will be broadcast for free at www.scubazoo.tv with the last episode released on June 21, 2021. To learn more about Borneo Ocean Diaries and many other natural history productions, please visit www.scubazoo. TV. Follow Scubazoo on Instagram and Facebook: #scubazoo