New device which could save thousands of seabirds, the Hookpod, launched in Norfolk by scientist brothers
07:33 20 August 2014
A new device which could save thousands of seabirds from starving to death due to sharp fishing hooks has been launched in Norfolk.
The Hookpod, the result of six years of work by two determined scientists, keeps the hooks encased while they sink to a safe depth.
It is the work of two Devon-based brothers who have joined forces with Stalham marine scientist Becky Ingham, who has joined the company as general manager.
Ben Kibel, who developed the design with his brother, Pete, said he was particularly moved by the plight of the albatross.
The engineer said: “They are most desperately at risk because they’re monogamous, mate for life and produce just one, undeniably heartwarming chick. Extinction is a genuine likelihood for them – it kept me focused.”
The Hookpod works to prevent birds from reaching the hook with by using a sensor inside the device, which tracks water pressure to make sure the hook is far enough below water to be beyond reach of the birds.
And to allow the company to push forward into production it has launched a crowd-funding campaign through online site Kickstarter, and is asking people to donate in return for a gift of thanks.
And £45,000 away from a £100,000 target, the project will only be funded if the money can be raised by August 25.
Ms Ingham, who was previously marketing manager at the RSPB, said production was currently in Devon, but as the business expanded it would be moved to Norfolk.
The Hookpod is designed to work for long-line fishing, which is aimed to catch large fish such as tuna and swordfish.
Ms Ingham said: “Some ships can have 3,000 hooks out a day. These are dangerous to birds which dive down to catch the bait and become stuck on the hook.”
The average boat’s set up costs would be about £12,000, but Ms Ingham said with the inclusion of an LED light in the hook, it would save about £30,000 for fishermen.
Mr Kibel’s brother, a fishery biologist, said: “Once fishing fleets see its immediate and undeniable benefits, saving money and wildlife, we think the Hookpod will become a standard piece of kit for long-line fishermen across the world.”
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