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Bycatch problem highlighted in study

Tuesday 21 April 2009

fishingA new fisheries report has found that a massive 40% of the overall global catch is classified as “unused or unmanaged”, a statistic that translates to over 38 million tonnes of wasted fish and other sealife. The scientific study, co-authored by conservation group WWF, highlights the widespread effects of bycatching and calls for a more holistic approach to regulation to improve the situation.

The issue of bycatch can dramatically reduce the sustainability impacts of regulated fishing, and is also a significant factor in the accidental deaths of turtles, marine mammals and seabirds.

“A huge quantity of fish and marine life is being thrown back to sea dead or dying,” said WWF’s Bycatch Initiative Leader Amanda Nickson, co-author of the paper. “Even if this bycatch is retained, there’s no way of telling whether it was sustainable to remove it from the sea in the first place. This is disastrous for the health of our oceans.”

“Simple, proven methods to reduce bycatch are already being implemented by many fisheries in Europe. These include more selective fishing gear and the use of onboard observers to document total catch,” said WWF’s Fisheries Policy Officer Giles Bartlett. “But such practices need to become much more widespread, and we urge ministers to ensure the upcoming reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) addresses this issue as a matter of priority.”

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