The fourth annual WWF International Smart Gear Competition for an invention that could save fish and other marine species from dying or being discarded was won by a team of inventors from Rhode Island in the US.

The “Eliminator”, the winning device captures haddock by reducing the accidental netting of other marine species. The invention takes advantage of the haddock’s natural tendency to swim upwards unlike the downward tendencies other fish have.

The winning team members are James O’Grady, Philip Ruhle, Sr. and his son Philip Ruhle, Jr., Jonathan Knight, Laura Skrobe and David Beutel.

“The collaborative design and development of the Eliminator trawl is a great example of the industry and scientists working together with managers to develop innovative solutions to reduce or eliminate bycatch,” said David Beutel. “We are excited to be receiving this award and look forward to continuing to research effective ways of reducing bycatch fishing.”

The team will receive $30,000 as the grand prize winners while two other inventors will receive runner-up awards of $10,000 each.

Diego Gonzalez Zevallos, a marine biologist at the Centro Nacional Patagonico in Argentina, developed a device which is a simple plastic cone to reduce seabird deaths.

Glen Parsons, a biology professor at the University of Mississippi, created a cylinder device that was widely tested on red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico.

“Destructive fishing is devastating our oceans, wasting a valuable natural resource and causing dramatic declines in populations of many marine species,” said Dr. Simon Cripps, Director of WWF’s Global Marine Program. “This competition is part of an unprecedented effort to team up with fishermen, industry insiders and scientists to find the best real-world, cost effective ideas to solve the scourge of bycatch.”

A special $5000 prize was awarded to UK-based Andy Smerdon of Aquatec Group Ltd, based in Hampshire, England, for the Passive Porpoise Deterrent Device which focuses on the mammal’s echolocation system and alerts porpoise to the presence of fishing nets.

The International Smart Gear Competition was created by WWF and a diverse range of partners in May 2004. The first competition had more than 50 entries from 16 countries. This year’s competition drew 70 entries from 22 countries.



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