(ORDO NEWS) — Abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear is a major source of ocean pollution, with serious social, economic and environmental impacts.
A team of scientists who conducted a scientific analysis commissioned by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) of Australia interviewed 451 fishermen from seven countries during the work.
The team then took into account the impact on gear loss of vessel size and of the gear in contact with the seabed, and estimated global fishing gear loss rates and the total amount of gear lost each year: 740,000 km of trawl nets, nearly 3,000 sq. km of gill nets, 75 thousand sq. km of purse seines.
In addition, more than 25 million cans and traps remain in the oceans every year. This is approximately 2% of all gear used in the world.
Scientists especially note the loss of more than 13 billion longline hooks, and also draw attention to the serious negative consequences caused by phantom fishing, when fish and other animals get into gear drifting in the oceans, which threatens most of them with death.
Such ghost nets result in habitat damage to underwater fauna and the trapping of endangered species. For example, the global population of sharks and rays has declined by 71% over the past half century, and entanglement in nets and abandoned hooks and other gear pose an even greater threat to these species.
The study assessed net losses mainly from commercial fishing, but there are significant gaps in knowledge about the amount of gear lost from artisanal and recreational fishing, as well as from illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities.
To prevent such a massive loss of gear, it is necessary to mark and track the fishing gear used by anglers and focus on more accurate weather forecasts, scientists say.
Then, according to the authors of the study, along with the development of effective fisheries management systems, food security will improve and there will be less harm to the environment.
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