The Index Project
Index Award 2019 Finalists
PISCES
The LED light at the end of the bycatch tunnel

Species caught in the fishing process that can’t be sold, known as bycatch, is much more than a huge environmental burden. Roughly one-fifth of the global population relies on fish as its primary source of protein, and for more than 20 million people globally, fishing is their primary source of income. While new laws on bycatch can help damaged ecosystems recover, jobs and livelihoods often suffer, as fishing crews don’t have the technology to fish both sustainably and efficiently.

PISCES is a simple to use, affordable, LED light-emitting device that retrofits onto any existing fishing nets. It helps fishermen attract the size and species of fish they’re licensed to catch while repelling non-target species. 

How does it work? Different species of fish and crustaceans are affected by lights in different ways. Some are attracted and some are repelled, and it all depends on the type of light you use. The device enables fishermen to easily specify the wavelength, intensity, polarization and flash-pattern of the light, to meet their specific needs.

The field-tested technology offers the potential to lower bycatch by 90% and improve fishing revenues by up to 20%. The design meets a huge and immediate global demand for bycatch reduction while protecting the jobs and communities that make up and are supported by the fishing industry.

Various light-emitting technologies, including various SafetyNet devices, have now been tested in commercial and artisanal fisheries around the world. While research continues, the results have so far been extremely encouraging in some fisheries. Tests in the US, Indonesia, Peru, Mexico, Cyprus and Pakistan have been able to reduce their bycatch by 50-90%. 

Other experiments also show an increase in yields with a fraction of the time and resources. This also has huge benefits for the marine life -- static fishing gear becomes more effective, reducing the need for more destructive techniques like trawling, and nets and fishing pots spend much less time in the ocean.

Designers: SafetyNet Technologies - United Kingdom
UN SDGs: Responsible production and consumption & Life below water

PISCES from The Index Project on Vimeo. Music: Lee Rosevere