FORT MYERS, Fla. — An associate professor at Florida Gulf Coast University is working to save thousands of endangered sea turtles.
After studying sea turtles in Ghana, Phil Allman has found a way to save them, according to the university.
Working with a team in Ghana, Allman was able to modify fishing nets, installing several green LED lights around each net, reducing the number of sea turtles killed by fishing nets operated by small-scale fisheries, the university said.
“Research published 10 years ago, reported 85,000 sea turtle deaths annually across the globe, but the number of participating boats represent less than 1% of the global fishing effort,” said Allman. “The magnitude of sea turtle bycatch is unsustainable and driving sea turtles closer to extinction. Across two separate studies in different fishing communities, the experimental nets with lights captured 81% fewer turtles than the control nets (without lights)."
Allman says Ghana has roughly 12,000 registered gillnet boats and says he believes there are "several thousand" others working without governmental authorization.
"Clearly, the Ghanaian gillnet fishery may be responsible for thousands of sea turtle deaths each year, but this is likely just a tiny fraction of what is captured globally,” Allman said.