Fish Hooks that “Open”

PB110038Fish hooks are simple instruments. Made of metal, most look like the letter “J” with the curved end ending in a sharp point and a barb pointing in the opposite direction. The simple technology is designed to puncture whatever animal decides to bites it and impede PB110039its ability to struggle free.

Their design works well when targeted fish bite the hook. But when other things (like sea turtles) bite, it’s difficult to pry these animals free. In fact many animals survive being caught by fishermen only to die later because the hook are too imbedded in their mouths or throats to be safely removed.

PB090025Always looking to improve on this simple design, scientists have designed them so that the “hook” end almost forms a circle (circle hooks), making it difficult for sea turtles to bite and swallow them.

The latest invention, however, might just revolutionize the fish hook industry.

Wilbur Acosta is designing and fabricating a hook with a hinge that allows it to open when the fisherman pulls a separate steel leader. By opening the hook, any un-targeted by-catch – like for instance that captured sea turtle – will slide free via its own weight. PB100032The hooks will be tested later this month on Costa Rican long line fishing boats out of Golfito. Conservationists hope that the new design will allow fishermen to select which animals they want to haul onboard their boats and which ones they want to let go. Stay tuned for preliminary results or contact Allan Bollanos at allan@pretoma.org for more information.

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