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Ghost fishing

Tuesday 4th November 2014

Ghost fishing

This has nothing to do with Halloween


I learned an amazing and very disturbing fact yesterday. It is estimated that there are about 640,000 tons of abandoned fishing nets floating around our oceans and seas. These nets are made of nylon, and have a predicted lifespan of 600 years. More abandoned nets are added every year .

Ghost fishing refers to the fish that get caught in these abandoned nets and inexorably die. Not only fish, but also other sea life like turtles, dolphins, seals.

We rely greatly on the fishing industry to place fish on our tables. We have become somewhat aware of the cost of such fishing in terms of what the industry calls “by-catch” – fish that cannot be sold commercially including predatory fish like sharks, rays and mammals like dolphins. Caught in the nets and then thrown dead back into the sea.

There are a number of agencies that set quotas on how much fish can be harvested per annum. Some of these agencies work well, and actually place inspectors within the fishing fleets. The Chinese open ocean fishing fleet is adding ships by the day, and I wonder how well they are monitored?

We have great concern about fish stocks. They can only be estimated, never counted. But we know that our fish stocks are being greatly depleted. How do we know this? Just go to your fishmonger or supermarket and look at the prices charged for fish today versus five or ten years ago. Fish farming is now becoming a major industry that compensates to some extent to the denudation of our oceans.

But now we must add to our fish depletion concern the impact of all those abandoned fishing nets still catching and killing marine life.

The fishing industry does not seem to have much concern and neither, it would seem, do the regulatory agencies. A ghost net just seems to be unfortunately added to the huge tonnage of “ocean trash” that floats around. That is estimated at over 6.5 MILLION TONS.

Commercial fishing has always been criticized for being wasteful and unsustainable and destructive. Ghost fishing needs to become a household term and a further demand by us to require much greater care of our oceans and seas by our fishing industry – at least to demand recovery efforts to clean up such nets?

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Categories: Events/Fundraising

Posted by Chris Macsween at 19:33

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