Photo: Riddhiman Bhowmik on Unsplash
What is "Bycatch"?
As there is a high amount of fishing, thousands of miles of nets and lines are set in the world’s oceans. To ensure efficient catching of the fish, modern fishing gear is often undetectable by sight and extremely strong. Which leads to catching a lot of the desired fish species as well as anything else in the path. Bycatch is the fish or other marine species, such as dolphins, whales, marine turtles that are all caught unintentionally while trying to catch another type of fish.
The impact it has on the environment
Firstly, it causes a lot of avoidable deaths and injuries. Bycatch amounts to 40% of global marine catches. This is a big problem, especially when
endangered, threatened and protected species are affected. Researchers identified bycatch to be the single biggest threat to some large marine species. Bycatch is also disrupting the food chain by removing fish that other fish rely on as food. So, by disrupting the food chain, Bycatch has a large impact on the marine ecosystem, by affecting the animal populations.
How can bycatch be reduced?
As fishers want to avoid bycatch, because non target animals can damage the gear and reduce their catch by taking up space, the fishing industry is working on nets that make it possible to reduce bycatch. But, it can’t be avoided completely in the fishing industry, so the level of bycatch needs to be acceptable which means that the amount of bycatch is well-managed and affected fish populations remain healthy. The MSC Fisheries standard is improving fishing activity, so if you eat seafood take a look to see if it has a blue MSC label on it, or, even better, try to avoid eating seafood at all.
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