Feature

Ghost nets rob the sea of fish

Millions of tons of fish are trapped in ghost nets annually, a number “difficult to ponder without feeling ill at the scale of waste,” said Conor Friedersdorf in Forbes.com.

Conor FriedersdorfForbes.com

As fishing stocks decline, “we can scarcely afford to let fish rot on the sea floor,” said Conor Friedersdorf. Yet that is exactly what we are doing. A study of deep-sea fishing in the North Atlantic concluded that more than 780 miles of industrial fishing net is lost or discarded every year. These “ghost nets” don’t simply sink to the bottom and disintegrate. Weighing several tons and “perfectly designed to snag fish,” the nets form a fence across the sea bottom, where they continue snaring fish year after forgotten year.

Millions of tons of fish are trapped in ghost nets annually, a number “difficult to ponder without feeling ill at the scale of waste.” Removing the ghost nets “is no easy task,” requiring long-distance boats, trained divers, and an abundance of time and luck. But while the fishing industry, conservationists, and politicians argue over policies to reverse the “long-running trend of stripping the ocean,” it seems there should be at least one reform that everyone can agree on: “eliminating waste.” For without a change in industrial fishing practices, ghost nets will continue “robbing humanity of valuable protein.”

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