Certain US Fisheries Throw Away Half the Catch
International ocean conservation organization Oceana exposes 9 of the dirtyest US fisheries in a new report.
In the report titled 'Wasted Catch: Unsolved Bycatch Problems in U.S. Fisheries', Oceana explains that despite significant progress in the last decade, the catch of non-target fish and ocean wildlife, or “bycatch,” remains a significant problem in domestic fisheries. In fact, researchers have estimated that approximately 20 percent of the total U.S. catch is thrown away each year, and nine were identified that throw away almost half of what they catch.
“Anything can be bycatch,” said Dominique Cano-Stocco, campaign director at Oceana. “Whether it’s the thousands of sea turtles that are caught to bring you shrimp or the millions of pounds of cod and halibut that are thrown overboard after fishermen have reached their quota, bycatch is a waste of our ocean’s resources. Bycatch also represents a real economic loss when one fisherman trashes another fisherman’s catch.”
Though some fishing methods are more harmful than others, researchers, fisheries managers and conservationists all agree that bycatch is generally highest in open ocean trawl, longline and gillnet fisheries. These three gear types alone are responsible for the majority of bycatch in the U.S. and are used by these nine dirty fisheries.
“The solution can be as simple as banning the use of drift gillnets, transitioning to proven cleaner fishing gears, requiring Turtle Excluder Devices in trawls, or avoiding bycatch hotspots,” said Dr. Geoff Shester, California program director at Oceana. “Proven solutions and innovative management strategies can significantly reduce the unnecessary deaths of sharks, sea turtles, dolphins and other marine life, while maintaining vibrant fisheries.”
In order to reduce the amount of wasted catch and the number of marine animals killed in U.S. fisheries, Oceana is calling on the federal government to do three things:
1) COUNT everything that is caught in a fishery, including bycatch species;
2) CAP the amount of wasted catch in each fishery using scientifically based limits; and
3) CONTROL and avoid bycatch by making improvements such as using cleaner fishing gear and enhanced monitoring.
For more information visit: www.oceana.org/wastedcatch