We're Accidentally Killing Half Of Our Oceans And Here's How You Can Help
28 BILLION kgs of marine wildlife die every single year, by accident, and you're only just finding out about this now……
This is due to 'Bycatch' and don’t worry, I agree, this should be a topic that we should all be aware of, however it's never too late to learn!
Facts and Stats:
- 40% of fish caught worldwide is bycatch
- Bycatch is normally dead, dying or seriously injured
- Bycatch is discarded back into the ocean that then floats to the bottom
- The main nets responsible are drift nets and gill nets
- Gill nets get caught on the fish's gills as they try to swim through, they can be 30m high
- Gill nets are frequently used for commercial Tuna fishing
What is Bycatch?
Bycatch is the name given to all marine species that unintentionally end up in the wrong fishing nets.
This doesn’t seem like a big deal though, right? Just throw them back into the ocean?
Image Source: fao.org
In an ideal world that would be great, however, while these nets are left hanging in the ocean, the marine animals are trying to vigorously free themselves. This makes them even more tangled and as you can imagine, highly stressed, and in turn will either leave them with deep flesh wounds or sadly dead.
Image source: worldwildlife.org
Most of the nets are intentionally built to snag gills so the fish cannot get out, this method however doesn’t differentiate between species, so many different species get caught and tangled as a result.
Tuna fishing, for example, has a 40% bycatch rate. This means that 40% of the total catch is discarded overboard every single haul. This includes dolphins, turtles, sharks, whales and a range of other fish species. How ridiculous!
Image source: worldwildlife.org
Did you know 1 kilo of prawns can equate to 5-20 kilos of bycatch?!
What Bycatch affects:
Ultimately, the loss of all these marine species negatively affects the ecosystem by leaving them unable to replenish their numbers due to low reproduction rates each year.
Accidental Bycatch killed every year (that we know of!):
- 300,000 small whales and dolphins
- 250,000 turtles
- 300,000 seabirds
Image Source: Seashepherd.org
How long has Bycatch been happening for?
There isn't an exact time, however around the 1960's is when people starting realising that they were mistakenly catching dolphins and turtles in their large Tuna nets. So we’re looking at maybe every day for the last 60 years……...
Where is Bycatch happening?
Worldwide, from Antarctica all the way to Europe.
As governments start to crack down on their country's fisheries practices, bycatch is slowly being seen as the criminal activity it is.
Why is Bycatch happening?
With our ever growing population, and our increase in interest for a healthy 'Mediterranean diet', fish species are the ones that luck out.
Due to an increase in demand (us, the consumers), the fisherman (the suppliers) are resorting to using bigger nets as a quick and easy way to meet the ever growing demands of the consumers.
How it affects us:
Without every single species that currently lives in the ocean, the ocean simply wouldn’t operate. They all serve a specific purpose, from cleaner fish cleaning parasites off rays to sharks keeping reefs healthy, every single member of the ocean has a strong and unique purpose.
Without our ocean operating properly, we would lose 70% of the worlds oxygen!
Hence why we can't keep stressing the ocean out like this, literally without it operating, we cannot survive.
How you can help:
- Reduce your seafood consumption to lessen the demand on the suppliers
- Consume sustainably sourced Tuna tins ( http://changeyourtuna.org.au/ )
- When eating seafood of any kind, have a look at where it gets caught and by what organisation
- Stay up to date and informed about local fisheries practices and support fisherman that follow these regulations
- If you see nets that have floated into shore, pop them in the bin before they get a chance to circulate back into the ocean.
Image Source: atuna.com
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