We have developed acoustic pingers that successfully warn dolphins and porpoises away from gillnets. More recently, we have successfully shown that metals may be usable as shark repellents in hook-based fisheries.

Investigating the Use of Metals as Shark Repellents

Sharks are frequently caught as bycatch by commercial and recreational fishermen when they are captured on baited hooks. Since sharks are very sensitive to the presence of metal in the water, we are working with several different types of electromagnetic materials to develop an effective shark repellent for fishing hooks. Our on-going research into has shown that select magnetic and metallic substances may hold potential as species-specific shark repellents.

Reducing Porpoise Bycatch in the Gillnet Fishery with Acoustic Pingers

During the 1990s, our researchers began to investigate the use of acoustic pingers as a bycatch reduction device in the gillnet fishery. We proved that these pingers reduced the bycatch of harbor porpoises in gillnets by an order of magnitude. These results eventually led to the mandated use of pingers in a number of gillnet fisheries in the US and the technique has spread to other fisheries around the world. It also highlighted the monumental gains in bycatch reduction that could be achieved by having science and industry working in partnership.