Summary: Although fishing gear may be designed to catch a particular species of marketable fish, sometimes other species also accidentally get caught. Through hands on simulation, students explore how fishing trawls may be modified to reduce bycatch.
Concepts to teach: Bycatch, excluder, trawl, iterative, efficiency, selectivity, engineering design
Goals: To deal with the unwanted problems associated with bycatch, the fishing industry must change their gear and/or their practices. Students design models of excluder devices to solve this real-world problem.
- Define “bycatch” and how it affects the fishing industry and the environment.
- Describe how a fishing trawl works to catch fish.
- Create and demonstrate how a model “excluder” reduces bycatch.
Activity Links and Resources:
- You’re Excluded—In this classroom lesson plan from Oregon Sea Grant, students learn about the problem of bycatch, and design their own model bycatch excluder devices.
- See a video of a bycatch excluder device in action.
- The Science for Sustainable Fisheries exhibit at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport has models of various fishing vessels and excluder gear.
- The Washington-based Derelict Fishing Gear project on the Northwest Straits website describes stewardship projects designed to reduce the impacts of derelict gear.
- Impacts of Derelict Fishing Gear—This BRIDGE lesson plan focuses on an issue in the Chesapeake Bay area. Consider modifying this lesson to address local sources of ghost fishing gear.
- Discussion Questions included in the You’re Excluded curriculum.