New guide to reducing bycatch goes online



Posted on 12 February 2008  | 
As a service to the long-term sustainability of both fish stocks and fishing communities, WWF has established an online resource providing up-to-date information on bycatch (the capture of non-target creatures in fishing gear) and how to reduce it.

The new website, accessed through WWF’s familiar www.panda.org portal, aims to take fishers, consumers and those simply concerned, through the whole bycatch story, from problems to proven or potential solutions.

“Bycatch costs fishers time and money,” said Amanda Nickson, Head of WWF’s Bycatch Initiative. “It contributes to the already critical problem of over-fishing, it jeopardizes future revenue, jobs and long-term food security.

“It is also a major killer of marine wildlife. How many more reasons do you need to change the way we fish?”

Each year, many millions of tonnes of marine animals such as turtles, whales, dolphins, sharks, and seabirds, right through to juvenile fish, corals, crabs and starfish etc are caught by modern, indiscriminate yet highly efficient fishing gear and thrown back into the water (‘discarded’), dead or dying.

In the tropical shrimp trawl fisheries, for example, bycatch may outweigh the shrimp catch by 20 to 1 or more, according the UN Food and Agricultural Organization.
 
Much of this bycatch consists of juvenile and low-value fish which are then often discarded, usually dead. Such wastages constitute a serious mismanagement of our valuable ocean resources. In many cases, however, bycatch can be reduced with modifications to fishing gear, which according to Nickson makes “the ongoing high level of bycatch unethical”.

“It's time to change - and we hope this site and the resources we've provided will help us all contribute to bycatch reduction," she said.
 
The new site maps where fisheries are working to reduce bycatch and includes a new searchable database that showcases bycatch solutions through fishing gear modifications. WWF, which is devoting major new resources to tackling this problem in key fisheries, is confident the new site will become an invaluable source of information for everyone, including fishers, politicians, technical experts, journalists and interested members of the public.

The site is found at www.panda.org/bycatch
 
Leatherback turtle caught up in a French Tuna purse-seine fishery in the Atlantic ocean.
© WWF-Canon / Hélène Petit Enlarge
Discarded catch by deep sea trawler in the  North Atlantic.
Discarded catch by deep sea trawler in the North Atlantic.
© WWF-Canon / Mike R. JACKSON Enlarge

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