Can sawfish bycatch within the Northern Prawn Fishery be mitigated using an electric field?

Kátya Abrantes, Adam Barnett, Maarten Soetaert, Peter M. Kyne, Adrianne Laird, Jamie Seymour, Lyle Squire, Barbara E. Wueringer, Charlie Huveneers

    Research output: Book/ReportOther report

    46 Downloads (Pure)


    FRDC Project No.: 2016-058

    This project aimed to test the effect of electric fields on sawfish behaviour and to assess the potential for electric pulses to mitigate sawfish bycatch in prawn fisheries. The project was developed in collaboration with the Northern Prawn Fishery Industry Projects Manager Adrianne Laird and Dr Peter Kyne, principal
    investigator of National Environmental Research Programme/National Environmental Science Program Marine Biodiversity Hubs projects specialised in Northern Australia threatened species, including sawfishes.

    Sawfishes are among the most threatened family of marine fishes and are particularly vulnerable to incidental capture in trawl and gillnet fisheries. In northern Australia, their distribution range overlaps with that of several commercial fisheries, including the Northern Prawn Fishery. Given the inefficiency of current bycatch reduction devices in reducing sawfish bycatch, there is a pressing need to develop new approaches to minimise sawfish interactions with fishing gear. Ideally, those would involve mechanisms that prevent contact with the fishing gear, i.e. that affect the behaviour of sawfish, preventing them from entering the nets, without affecting catches of target species.

    Elasmobranchs (sharks and rays) have the ability to detect minute electromagnetic fields using highly sensitive electroreceptors. This sensory capability has been used to develop repellent technologies and
    the use of electric fields has been proposed as the method with the highest potential to reduce sawfish bycatch. The present project was developed to test the effect of electric fields on sawfish behaviour, to determine if a strong electric field can overwhelm their electrosensory system and dissuade them from
    approaching its source and/or elicit a fleeing behaviour. If successful, this technology could be incorporated into a device and attached to commercial fishing nets to reduce sawfish bycatch...
    Original languageEnglish
    PublisherFisheries Research and Development Corporation
    Number of pages50
    ISBN (Print)978-1-925562-36-1
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


    Dive into the research topics of 'Can sawfish bycatch within the Northern Prawn Fishery be mitigated using an electric field?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this