Dumped fishing gear is biggest ocean polluter

Nets, lines and traps deadly for marine life

Thanks to Peter for a link to the national version of the Diario, reporting that fishing supplies, including nets, lines and traps, are now thought t0 be the biggest contributor to the plastic waste found on the seabed, according to a report released yesterday by Greenpeace.

A recent study of the “great Pacific garbage patch”, an area of plastic accumulation in the north Pacific, estimated that it contained 42,000 tonnes of megaplastics, of which 86% was fishing nets.

In another report, but published 10 years ago, the United Nations Environment Program and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated at just 10% the amount of plastic from polluting fisheries in the oceans.

Lost or discarded by shipowners, non-biodegradable fishing gear continues to capture fish and shellfish for many years, killing other animals such as dolphins, seals and turtles.

In 2018, more than 300 turtles of an endangered species were found dead off Mexico after being trapped in a seemingly forgotten fishing net.

The non-governmental organization Animal Protection estimates that abandoned fishing nets kill 100,000 whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions and turtles per year. According to the United Nations, 640,000 tons of fishing material are abandoned annually at sea.

The plastic, being resistant, is one of the most used materials by the fishing industry. When it finally begins to disintegrate into small particles, after many years, it is ingested by fish, which will later be consumed by humans.

“Governance system” to protect marine fauna and flora

Non-governmental organizations have been pushing the UN for several years to adopt an ocean “governance system” that protects marine fauna and flora. To date, 64% of the ocean area is outside the sovereignty of countries.

Such a “governance system” could, in particular, oblige fishing companies to recover their material, imposing fines in the event of negligence.

While awaiting concrete measures, several environmental organizations have embarked on the hunt for plastic left at sea by fishing vessels.

The Guardian also covers the story here

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