WCS has won top honors from Rare, in partnership with National Geographic, for an innovative marine program operated in Curacao and Kenya. The program, entered into a contest called "Solution Search: Turning the Tide for Coastal Fisheries," promotes fish traps with rectangular gaps that permit small, juvenile fish to escape. The solution is entitled “Bycatch Escape Gaps for Fish Traps,” and reduces bycatch by 80 percent.

Escape gaps offer coastal fishers a low-cost, low-tech means of maintaining sustainable fisheries in coastal East Africa, the Caribbean, and other regions using traditional fish traps. To support this conservation and resource management initiative, WCS has received a $20,000 prize.

The two runners-up, Off the Hook Community Supported Fishery and the Misool Baseftin Foundation, each received prizes of $5,000 for their respective solutions, “Fresh. Fair. Fish.” in Canada and “Defending the Heart of Marine Biodiversity: Community Stewardship of Raja Ampat’s Reefs” in Raja Ampat.

The winners will receive their awards at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Feb. 8.

“Tim McClanahan and co-investigator Ayana Johnson’s project demonstrates how the science of conservation can be used for practical solutions that benefit both people and wildlife,” said Caleb McClennen, Director of WCS’s Marine Programs. “We thank Rare and for all those who voted for this project for recognizing Tim’s work.”

This first-ever global Solution Search sought applications from organizations worldwide with demonstrated innovations that benefit coastal communities and marine ecosystems. More than 100 applications were received from 48 countries, from which a panel of expert judges selected 10 finalists, with the public choosing the winners. Solutions submitted for the contest included the implementation of no-take zones, introduction of innovative fishing gear and the development of alternative livelihoods. Submissions came from across the globe, including Indonesia, Madagascar, Brazil, and Turkey.

Platform sponsors are the Goldring Family Foundation, the Barr Foundation and the Cedar Hill Foundation. 
To read all entries, please visit http://www.solutionsearch.org.

For more information, read the press release.