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Scallops love 'disco' lights, scientists discover

Scientists say the discovery could allow people to maximise catches while reducing damage caused by fishing

Scallops love 'disco' lights, scientists discover

Scientists have discovered an unusual new technique for catching scallops while fishing, and it involves LED 'disco' lighting.

During a recent experiment, Marine scientist Dr. Rob Enever and his team at Fishtek Marine, a Devon-based fisheries consultancy, designed small underwater "potlights" to attract crabs and lobsters, and remove the need to use other fish as bait. However, while the lights were supposed to attract crabs into the pots, it was scallops who were ultimately more attracted to the LED lighting.

The Guardian quotes Enever as saying of the discovery: "It's like a scallop disco – illuminate the trap and they come in. It's astonishing that no one else has discovered this before. It's quite an exciting find. This has the potential to open up a whole new inshore fishery and that’s a global first."

Most scallops are caught by dredging, which can significantly damage marine habitats when done on a large scale. Current alternatives, such as using scuba divers to hand-pick the scallops, are more time-consuming and often more expensive to carry out.

It's now being posited that this new accidental discovery may help to reduce some of the damage caused to seabeds by fishing, with a new alternative method found to attract scallops.

Fisher Jon Ashworth, who was also involved in the experiment, told The Guardian: "Pretty much every pot that we hauled had scallops in them and yet every haul without lights had no scallops. It was conclusive, there and then. To have proof that lights can be used to catch scallops has got to have some awesome implications looking forward."