LED lights on fishing nets can prevent turtles being trapped

The Malaysian Fisheries Department

KUALA TERENGGANU: The Malaysian Fisheries Department will implement the installation of LED lights on fishermen’s drift nets and stingray nets to prevent turtles from being trapped in these nets.

Deputy Director-General (Development) Zulkafli Abd Rashid said for a start, 10 fishing boats would be installed with LED lights.

This pilot project will be monitored for three months.

“Based on a study conducted in Peru last year, the problem of turtles trapped in fishermen’s nets can be reduced by 60% by fixing LED lights.

“It is dark near the sea bed but when LED lights are fixed to the drift nets and stingray nets, the turtles will avoid the glare from the lights, thus saving them from being trapped in the nets.”

He said this at a press conference in conjunction with the Malaysia Fisheries Department’s Senior Officers Annual Conference 2016, here, today. Also present was Terengganu Fisheries Department Director Zawawi Ali.

Zulkafli said the fixing of LED lights to the nets would not adversely affect fish catch but would instead increase the catch as fishes were naturally attracted to light.

“We have also taken several other measures to prevent depletion of the turtle population.

“We encourage the fixing of the turtle excluder device (TED) to trawler nets, besides training fishermen on the proper action to be taken if turtles get trapped in their trawler nets.”

On the use of stingray nets, said to be the main cause of turtle deaths, he said the department was always monitoring and carrying out enforcement with the assistance of other agencies, including the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.

“This year, in Terengganu waters, we seized 40 stingray nets. These nets are prohibited under the Fisheries (Prohibition of Methods of Fishing) Regulations 1980.

“These are nets with holes of over 10 inches in diameter.”

Since January this year, 53 turtle deaths have been reported.