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Worldwide, fishing fleets discard as many as two of every five sea creatures they catch. Now, a new tool can help fishers locate the most productive fishing spots while avoiding unwanted or protected species such as sea turtles and dolphins.
Called EcoCast, the experimental tool developed by researchers at Stanford and other universities combines satellite data of ocean conditions, records from fisheries observers and species tracking data to pinpoint ideal fishing areas on a daily basis. Resource managers can adjust the weighting of each species as risks change and the fishing season progresses. This helps fishers optimize their harvest of target fish, while reducing the risk of inadvertently catching and killing sensitive species.
The findings, published this week in Science Advances, show that this type of dynamic management tool and approach can be up to 10 times more efficient for protecting species than previous management styles.