It is quite common for sharks to swim into the traps with which fishermen catch lobsters. The sharks eat the lobsters and usually can not escape from the traps on their own. Often they die in the trap.
“If you can deliver me traps where the shark cannot go in, then you’re my friend,” said fisherman Nicky Johnson on Saba last summer.
His wish seems to be fulfilled. This week, a project was launched on the island to reduce the by-catch of sharks. This project is funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs as part of Yarari, a shark and marine mammal shelter set up in the waters of the Dutch-Caribbean islands Saba and Bonaire in 2015.
“Good news for sharks and fishermen,” said Irene Kingma of the Dutch Elasmobranchen Association and coordinator of this project. “Every year, up to 900 nurse sharks are captured in the traps. For fishermen, this is a burden because the sharks break the traps and kill the lobsters. The challenge is to come up with a design that stops the sharks but passes the lobsters. ”
Nicky Johnson is one of the fishermen on Saba who, along with the environmental organization of the island, the Saba Conservation Foundation, contributes to shark protection. In addition to their regular traps, some fishermen use traps with a custom entry. From both the regular traps and the new traps, records will be kept of the amount of shark by-catches and the yield of lobsters, so that after the project it can be determined if the new traps are a good option to reduce by-catches.