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An American fishermen and scientists' consortium has won the 2013 Katerva Award in Ecosystem Conservation for its work to help reduce bycatch in the fishing industry.

The Consortium for Wildlife Bycatch Reduction includes the New England Aquarium, the Maine Lobstermen's Association, the University of New Hampshire, the Bluewater Fishermen's Association and Duke University, and is principally funded by NOAA Fisheries. The award, described as "the Nobel Prize of Sustainability," recognizes efforts to make fishing safer for the environment.

"One way we have been able to expand our impact of our work was by creating a searchable, on-line data base of by-catch reduction efforts," said Tim Werner, a senior research scientist at the New England Aquarium and director of the consortium. "It allows anyone in the world to research methods that might help better protect threatened marine species in their region from being unintentionally caught in fishing activities."

The consortium helps develop other techniques and technology, such as whale-safe hooks, acoustic pingers that keep marine mammals away from fishing nets and electro-magnetic devices that deter sharks and rays from hooks set to catch other species of fish. The consortium has also conducted studies on how whales get entangled in fishing gear, including lobster pots, and how to reduce risk of future entanglements.

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