Bait casting machines (BCMs) are hydraulically operated devices that propel hooks off the back of pelagic longline boats as lines are being set. They help to cast baited hooks in the desired direction – even in strong winds – increasing the efficiency of line-setting, which was done by hand prior to their development. With a cycling time (the time it takes for 1 hook to be set) of 5 seconds, these machines greatly improve line-setting efficiency.
Early BCMs, developed by Gyrocast Pty Ltd, were designed to also reduce seabird interactions with baited hooks, as they allowed fishermen to ‘place’ hooks under the protection of bird-scaring lines (link) which kept the birds away. Alternative designs have since emerged on the market and whilst they are still designed to ease the line-setting process, they no longer incorporate the features used to mitigate bycatch, with no control over direction or casting-power.
Although in theory, Gyrocast’s bait casting machines could be used to reduce seabird bycatch, no trials were conducted to test this assumption. With these models no longer in production, and newer models not equipped with the bycatch mitigation features, it is recommended by BirdLife International that in place of conducting research on these new models, the next crucial step is to instead redesign the existing machines to reintroduce these features.
This page was last updated on 12.02.21.
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