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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, March 31, 2004

New, safer fish hook points to wisdom of ancient ways

 •  Longline fishing ban lifted

By Will Hoover
Advertiser Staff Writer

At least one important piece in the new rules governing longline swordfish fishing is not new at all. It's ancient.

The circle hook, designed to catch a swordfish but repel a sea turtle, is a very old idea, said Paul Dalzell, senior scientist for the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, the federal agency that oversees the management of the Pacific Region.

"You know who came up with the circle hook?" said Dalzell, pulling one of the large modern metal hooks from his shirt pocket. "It was the Pacific islanders. They made them out of shell way back when — 3,000 years ago.

"If you look at an archeology book showing hooks these early fishermen used, a lot of them have this basic shape, with the point recurved back toward the shank. Yeah, the Pacific islanders came up with this."

How did they know?

"Because they were smart," he said. "And because they had done it for so long that they figured it out."

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