The Seaqualizer releases fish with air bladders safely.

The Seaqualizer releases fish with air bladders safely.

Fish Radio

May 8, 2014

Smart Gear Competition, 2014                                                            


 This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch — Win cash for Smart Gear ideas. I’ll tell you more after this —

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The international Smart Gear competition rewards new gear ideas that help fishermen retain their target catches while letting marine mammals, turtles, birds or small fish swim away. The contest began in 2005 by the World Wildlife Fund. Michael Osmond is program director –

 This competition is our largest prize pool we’ve ever had. There is a $30,000 grand prize; two $10,000 runners up prizes, and we also have two $7,5000 what we call special bycatch prizes. One of them is a tuna bycatch reduction prize, and the other is a marine mammal bycatch reduction prize. 

 Osmond says the contest goes well beyond the cash prizes.

 But the second step is to get those ideas to the stage where they can actually be out there being used by industry, and doing the job they were designed to do.

 World Wildlife continues working with the innovators long after the contest, Osmond says, to get the gears out on the water.  

 To date, almost 50% of the winning ideas from the competition are now out there being used.  

That includes the 2011winners – from Japan, a double weight branchline that prevents seabird bycatch; from Florida, a Seaqualizer that that lets fish with air bladders be safely returned to deep water, and from California – simple turtle lights for gillnets.

 Osmond says 60-70% of the entries come from fishermen and majority of winning ideas.

 The fishing community has really adopted the competition and helped continue to move it forward. It’s a win win for conservation and the community.

 The 2011 competition attracted 74 entries from a record 31 countries. Osmond says Alaska is always in the mix with three or four entries.

 We haven’t yet had a winning idea that’s come from Alaska but this year is just as good a chance as any.   

Deadline to enter the Smart Gear contest is August 31. Learn more at   

Ocean Beauty has contributed over 10 million meals to the U.S. Food Bank network, and is committed to ending hunger in America.   In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.