13 Jul 2018 - World Animal Protection (WAP), an international non-profit animal welfare organization, this week is using the 33rd Committee on Fisheries (COFI), in Rome, Italy, to push for all fishing nets to contain identification tags by 2025.
And it’s asking the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to get behind the idea.
“Every year more than one hundred thousand whales, dolphins, seals and turtles are caught in ghost gear -- abandoned, lost and discarded fishing nets, lines and traps which can take up to 600 years to decompose,” the group advises in a press release. “A staggering 640,000 metric tons, the equivalent of 52,000 London double decker buses, of ghost gear is left in our oceans each year. Some nets lost in the oceans are bigger than football pitches.”
Physical tags, chemical marking, color-coding, radio-frequency identification, radio beacons and satellite buoys are among the many tagging approaches available, the group said.
Requiring tagging “will help fishermen retrieve gear they have accidentally lost, dissuade anyone from deliberately abandoning it, and will also help identify fishing practices taking place illegally,” said Ingrid Giskes, WAP’s global head of sea change, in a separate statement sent to Undercurrent News.
Seven out of ten (71%) fish entanglements involve plastic ghost gear, and an estimated 5% to 30% of the decline in some fish stocks can also be attributed to ghost gear, she claimed.