Alternative Bait


Alternative bait simply refers to switching bait-type/species, aiming to deter non-target animals that are attracted to a certain type of bait. For example, squid bait can be replaced by mackerel bait in longline fisheries to reduce the incidence of sea turtle bycatch.

Importantly, the use of alternative bait must consider the bait preferences of target catch so as to maintain the efficiency of the fishery. Similarly, the attractiveness of alternative bait to other previously non-bycatch species must be considered, as they may become more interested in the new alternative.


Considerable research has been conducted specifically on the replacement of squid bait with mackerel bait to reduce sea turtle bycatch. The trials have suggested that the switch can be effective, reducing turtle bycatch by 75% in a North Pacific pelagic longline fishery and by 56% in an Equatorial Atlantic swordfish longline fishery.

Reducing shark bycatch using this method has also been proposed but the effects are lesser known. A 2016 review suggests that the same switch that reduces bycatch in turtles (squid to fish) in fact increases bycatch of sharks, although a more recent review found that both turtles and blue sharks are less likely to be captured on forage fish versus squid. However, additional research is required.

Other research has investigated the use of a combination of both an alternative bait and circle hooks. These trials were conducted in an Atlantic swordfish longline fishery and found the use of an alternative bait to be more effective at reducing turtle bycatch.

Since there exists contrasting evidence for the alternative bait that is best for reducing bycatch, it remains crucial that fishery-specific assessments continue, with recommendations incorporating bait preferences of both target catch and vulnerable bycatch species. Trade-offs may be required where bycatch interactions with different types of wildlife occur.

This page was last updated on 20.12.22.

Interested in how this and other measures could mitigate bycatch in your fishery? Get in touch with us to collaborate or take part in a study.

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