Fishing problems: Bycatch
Wherever there is fishing, there is bycatch
Furthermore, poor fisheries management in certain countries does little to minimize bycatch. For example:
- Although devices to minimize turtle bycatch are required in some fisheries, they are not always used due to lack of enforcement or political will.
- Many Asian tropical shrimp trawl fisheries generate massive bycatch of "trash fish" - juvenile and small fish - that is often marketed. This provides little incentive for fishers to implement the bycatch reduction devices that will allow these fish to escape
- Some policies actually create incentives to discard unwanted fish. For example, under some management systems fishers can only land fish species for which they have a quota - and so dump the smaller, less valuable fish overboard, often already dead.
- Due to different commercial fish populations often living together, the directed catch of one species may well result in non-allowable catches of another! This is a particular problem in the Grand Banks off Canada where, despite a ban on cod fishing now lasting well over a decade, cod recovery is prevented as cod juveniles are caught by fishers targeting other fish.
Impact of bycatch on dolphins and porpoises
WWF estimates that six cetacean species may disappear in the next decade due to fishing gear entanglement.There are probably fewer than 100 Maui's dolphins left in New Zealand because of high entanglement rates in set nets and by pair trawlers.
Similar threats have dramatically reduced populations of the Vaquita (gulf porpoise) in the Gulf of California, the Harbour porpoise in the Baltic Sea, and the Irrawaddy dolphin in the Philippines.
More information on cetaceans and bycatch