A new type of net called the SafetyNet could help save millions of fish around the world every year. The innovative new fishing net is designed with reinforced holes that will allow small fish to escape the certain demise they face with conventional fishing nets. 40% of the world’s population is dependent on a fish based diet and since industrial fishing started in the 1950’s we’ve already depleted 90% of the Earth’s supply of large fish. Much of that depletion is caused by the accidental capture of young fish, which are too small for fisherman to keep and sell — or unwanted species getting caught in nets, being killed and then being thrown back into the ocean. The SafetyNet promises to help solve this problem by allowing the little guys to escape and continue their lives as healthy members of the ocean’s fish population. Watch a video about the new net after the jump.

The SafetyNet was designed by David Watson and it has been entered in Time To Care, a competition partially sponsored by Victorinox Swiss Army that focuses on celebrating innovative, responsible, and sustainable design. During research Watson discovered that small fish should be able to escape through the holes in conventional fishing nets, but the holes are pushed closed by the pressure of the trawl. He also discovered that fish can’t see the net once they are in it, so even if there were holes to escape through they might not find them.

Watson’s SafetyNet has holes that are reinforced to withstand the pressure of the trawl so they’ll never collapse. They are also lit by LED lights that shine like beacons so the fish can find their escape route. The LED’s are powered by tiny turbines that garner electricity from the constant flow of water through them – Watson calls this his “fit-and-forget-it” system. Watson’s design could help immature fish get back into the ocean so they grow to help replenish our dwindling fish supply. Best of all, his rings can be fitted onto existing fishing nets, so there is no need to create a whole new world of plastic netting — we can retrofit what we have to work in a more humane and efficient way.

Via Fast Co. Design