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Waste and Emissions»Ghost Fishing Damaging Ocean Life a New Report Claims

»Monday, May 11,2009


Ocean Pollution

Each year, approximately 640,000 tonnes of fishing equipment were being discarded in our oceans, making up about a tenth of overall ocean pollution.

 

Fishing nets can become separated to the boats to which they are attached. This includes the impact of bad weather (which can tear the nets) and coral reefs. These examples kick-start the process of so-called "ghost fishing" where the nets fish of their own accord, trapping animals such as turtles and whales for years on end.

 

Impact of Ghost Fishing on Environment

 

No information could be provided in the UN's report of the actual impact of ghost fishing on the environment - this would be "very difficult to estimate" according to UNEP's David Osborn.

 

"But we know that it's affecting fish take and it also represents a problem in terms of navigational hazards, like by fouling propellers”, Osborn added, in comments made to news agency Reuters.

A drift net ban was enforced seventeen years ago. According to the study, this measure has had some effect. Fishing nets and other material, regardless, "will continue to accumulate and the impacts on marine ecosystems will continue to get worse if the international community doesn't take effective steps to deal with the problem of marine debris as a whole”, assistant director-general at the FAO, Ichiro Nomura, explained.

The report advocated implementing measures like financial incentives for fishing crews that brought unusable or unwanted nets back to shore, or developing new technology and new nets that would dissolve over time rather than endangering animals at sea.

To some degree, biodegradable fishing nets are already in use, while some nets are also engineered to let turtles swim free.

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