Reduced deck lighting is the lowering and/or adaptation of artificial lighting on fishing vessels during hours of darkness. While some lighting will always be required in order to comply with safety regulations, the risk posed to non-target wildlife species such as seabirds and cetaceans – who become attracted to bright lights and drawn towards vessels – can be mitigated through a number of measures, such as reducing the number of lights and applying different coloured filters. The issue is prevalent in all fisheries that operate at night.
Artificial deck lighting is thought to particularly attract seabirds at night, causing injury through collision with vessels, bycatch on hooked gear during night setting, and entanglement in lines and nets. Research conducted in Scotland has shown that puffins and Manx shearwater fledglings are drawn to artificial lights on land, while scientists have found evidence of petrels off both Tristan da Cunha and South Georgia being attracted to fishing and other vessels due to their lights. Weather conditions such as fog may hide natural light sources such as the sun, or stars, and make seabirds more likely to mistake vessels for land features; this indicates that mitigation measures would be particularly useful at these times and around productive seabird sites.
Personal observations from fishermen in the UK suggest that the use of red and green filters are somewhat effective in reducing the number of seabirds attracted to vessels at night, although the success of this approach has been mixed.
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.