Derelict Fishing Gear and Ghost Fishing

Trends in derelict fishing nets and fishing activity in northern Australia: Implications for trans-boundary fisheries management in the shared Arafura and Timor Seas

Edyvane KS, Penny SS. Trends in derelict fishing nets and fishing activity in northern Australia: Implications for trans-boundary fisheries management in the shared Arafura and Timor Seas. Fisheries Research [Internet]. 2017 ;188:23 - 37. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165783616304064
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Fishing is the major human activity within the ‘semi-enclosed’ Arafura and Timor Seas (ATS). Since the early 2000’s, Australia’s sparsely populated, remote northern shores have reported very high levels of foreign, fishing-related marine debris. Limited information is available about the temporal and spatial variation of this fishing debris or its origin. We examine trends in derelict fishing nets (and marine debris) at multiple sites in the Northern Territory and Gulf of Carpentaria and, explore its potential origin and relationship with fishing activity in the region. Further, we investigate temporal trends in domestic and foreign fishing activity (legal and illegal) in the ATS and also foreign fishing vessel sightings in the northern waters of the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone (AEEZ). Our results confirm that foreign fishing debris (nets, rope and gear) is the major source of marine debris (63%) on Australia’s northern shores. Over the period 2003–2008, a total of 2305 derelict fishing nets were washed ashore; of these, 89% were identified of foreign origin (i.e. manufacture), compared to 11% attributed to Australian fishing vessels or fisheries. Industrial foreign and Indonesian-flagged fisheries – particularly, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) trawling activity – and small-scale Indonesian IUU fisheries (primarily targeting shark) in the Arafura Sea are likely the major sources of these nets. Derelict nets comprised mostly trawl nets (71%) and gillnets/drift nets (12%); with 95% of all identified net sourced from the nations of Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand and Korea. Our data also supports consistent under-reporting by these foreign trawl operators in the Indonesian Exclusive Economic Zone (IEEZ) of the ATS.

The arrival and increase in derelict nets in northern Australia post-2000 coincided with sharp increases in both industrial foreign fishing (illegal, legal) and Indonesian small-scale fisheries within the IEEZ waters of the ATS. Including, over the period 2000–2007, a 2-fold increase in ‘non-motorised’ vessels, and a 5-fold increase in the number of motorised vessels, particularly in vessels less than 5GT. Further, this major increase in fishing activity in the IEEZ corresponded to a 3-fold increase in foreign fishing vessels (FFVs) (legal, illegal) sightings in northern Australian waters. Within the AEEZ, derelict net loads and sightings of illegal FFVs, both peaked and reached a maximum in 2005 (188 kg km−1yr; 6956 vessels) and then sharply reduced (>80%) following major border control, surveillance and security operations in the northern Australia in 2005–2006. However, post-2007, illegal FFV sightings inside the AEEZ have increased again. Significantly, derelict nets and small-scale IUU fishing activity in the AEEZ is linked to a broader pattern of poverty, overfishing and displacement of small scale fishers in coastal fisheries in the Arafura Sea (and South East Asia), due primarily to the expansion of industrial (illegal, legal) trawl fisheries. Strengthening of regional fisheries management (particularly under the RPOA-IUU) is urgently required to tackle IUU fishing, the key source of fishing debris in the ATS. While fisheries capacity reduction is a critical priority, it needs to be supported by a regional multi-sectoral response framed within the context of food security and rural economic development.

Ghostly encounters: Dealing with ghost gear in the Gulf of Carpentaria

Phillips C. Ghostly encounters: Dealing with ghost gear in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Geoforum [Internet]. 2017 ;78:33 - 42. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016718516302603
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Ghost gear – abandoned, lost, or otherwise discarded fishing gear – has been recognised as a global environmental challenge since the mid-1980s, and yet little social science attention has fallen on the phenomenon. This paper explores how the burden of global fisheries, materialised through its gear, is experienced and managed. How is ghost gear encountered? How is it understood? What influence does it have, and what responses does it provoke? To consider these questions, the paper begins with detailing of an encounter with ghost gear and Aboriginal rangers on the eastern coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria, northern Australia. Understanding encounters as tangles of interlaced threads, rather than isolated intimacies, the paper also follows ghost gear beyond the experience of beach clean-up. How ghost gear journeys to this beach, and the mobilities and meetings that occur during its travels is explored, as well as the policy responses to ghost gear that figure it primarily as marine debris to be managed through territorial control as isolated ‘waste’. These more-than-human stories offer insights into the distributed agencies, complex relations, and differential responsibilities involved in the phenomenon of ghost gear, and efforts to deal with it as part of land-sea assemblies.

The ‘ghost of past fishing’: Small-scale fisheries and conservation of threatened groupers in subtropical islands

Silvano RAM, Nora V, Andreoli TB, Lopes PFM, Begossi A. The ‘ghost of past fishing’: Small-scale fisheries and conservation of threatened groupers in subtropical islands. Marine Policy [Internet]. 2017 ;75:125 - 132. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308597X16306261
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Groupers are highly targeted and vulnerable reef fishes. The effects of fishing pressure on the density of three reef fishes were investigated in 21 islands outside (n=15) and inside (n=6) a Marine Protected Area (MPA) at the Paraty Bay, Brazilian southeastern coast. Two valued groupers (Epinephelus marginatus and Mycteroperca acutirostris) and a non-target grunt (Haemulon aurolineatum) were studied. The total biomass of fish caught in each island was considered as a measure of current fishing pressure, while the island distance from the villages was considered as a measure of past fishing pressure. Fish densities were recordedin number and biomass. The biomass of M. acutirostris was inversely related to current fishing pressure, which did not affect the other two fishes. The density of E. marginatus increased with the island distance from one of the fishing villages, which indicated that past fishing may have had decreased the abundance of E. marginatus. Densities of the three fishes and fishing pressure did not differ between islands inside and outside the MPA. Data on fishing pressure, densities of groupers and coral cover were combined here to assign conservation scores to islands. A redefinition of MPA boundaries to reconcile fish conservation, fishing activities and fishers’ food security was proposed.

The Dilemma of Derelict Gear

Scheld AM, Bilkovic DM, Havens KJ. The Dilemma of Derelict Gear. Scientific Reports [Internet]. 2016 ;6:19671. Available from: http://www.nature.com/articles/srep19671
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Every year, millions of pots and traps are lost in crustacean fisheries around the world. Derelict fishing gear has been found to produce several harmful environmental and ecological effects, however socioeconomic consequences have been investigated less frequently. We analyze the economic effects of a substantial derelict pot removal program in the largest estuary of the United States, the Chesapeake Bay. By combining spatially resolved data on derelict pot removals with commercial blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) harvests and effort, we show that removing 34,408 derelict pots led to significant gains in gear efficiency and an additional 13,504 MT in harvest valued at US $21.3 million—a 27% increase above that which would have occurred without removals. Model results are extended to a global analysis where it is seen that US $831 million in landings could be recovered annually by removing less than 10% of the derelict pots and traps from major crustacean fisheries. An unfortunate common pool externality, the degradation of marine environments is detrimental not only to marine organisms and biota, but also to those individuals and communities whose livelihoods and culture depend on profitable and sustainable marine resource use.

Apparent survival of North Atlantic right whales after entanglement in fishing gear

Robbins J, Knowlton AR, Landry S. Apparent survival of North Atlantic right whales after entanglement in fishing gear. Biological Conservation [Internet]. 2015 ;191:421 - 427. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320715300306
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

The impacts of human activities on cryptic marine species can be difficult to assess. The North Atlantic right whale is an endangered species numbering just over 500 individuals. Entanglement in fishing gear is one documented source of injury and mortality, but population-level effects have been difficult to quantify. We used documented entanglements, long-term population studies and mark-recapture statistical techniques to evaluate the effect of these events on North Atlantic right whale survival. Estimates were based on 50 individuals observed carrying entangling gear between 1995 and 2008, and compared to 459 others that were never observed with gear during the same period. Entangled adults had low initial apparent survival (0.749, 95% CI: 0.601–0.855), but those that survived the first year achieved a survival rate (0.952, 95% CI: 0.907–0.977) that was more comparable to unaffected adult females (0.961, 95% CI: 0.941–0.974) and males (0.986, 95% CI: 0.975–0.993). Juveniles had a post-entanglement survival rate that was comparable to the initial survival of entangled adults (0.733, 95% CI: 0.532–0.869) and lower than un-impacted juveniles (0.978, 95% CI: 0.969–0.985). Of three entanglement characteristics examined, health impacts were most predictive of subsequent survival, but the entanglement configuration and the resulting injuries also appeared to affect outcome. When the entanglement configuration was assessed as high risk, human intervention (disentanglement) improved the survival outcome. This is the first mark–recapture estimate of entanglement survival for any whale species. The results indicate the need for continued mitigation efforts for this species, as well as for a better understanding of entanglement impacts in other baleen whale populations.

Status of international monitoring and management of abandoned, lost and discarded fishing gear and ghost fishing

Gilman E. Status of international monitoring and management of abandoned, lost and discarded fishing gear and ghost fishing. Marine Policy [Internet]. 2015 ;60:225 - 239. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308597X1500175X
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Abandoned, lost and discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) can pose substantial ecological and socioeconomic problems. Over the past decade there has been increasing international recognition of the need for multilateral efforts to address transboundary problems resulting from ALDFG, including ghost fishing. To benchmark the status of international monitoring and mitigation of ALDFG and ghost fishing, an assessment was made of data collection protocols and management measures to prevent and remediate ALDFG and ghost fishing by 19 global and regional bodies and arrangements with the competence to establish binding controls for marine capture fisheries. Four organizations were explicitly mandated by their convention or agreement text to monitor and control ALDFG and ghost fishing. Modifying mandates of the other organizations might augment members' political will to monitor, prevent and remediate ALDFG and ghost fishing. Ten organizations collected logbook or observer data on ALDFG. Harmonizing data collection protocols where they are in place, and filling gaps where they are lacking, would improve regional monitoring of ALDFG. Twelve organizations have adopted binding measures that contribute to avoiding or remediating ALDFG. The organizations, however, make use of a small subset of available tools: Only half of 18 categories of methods identified as having the potential to prevent and remediate ALDFG and ghost fishing were used by the organizations. Organizations lacking relevant binding measures could begin to fill this gap and organizations can tap a broader suite of complimentary management methods.

Impact of "Ghost Fishing" via Derelict Fishing Gear

Anon. Impact of "Ghost Fishing" via Derelict Fishing Gear. Silver Spring, MD: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; 2015 p. 25. Available from: http://marinedebris.noaa.gov/impact-ghost-fishing-derelict-fishing-gear
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Report

This report is a summary of the current scientific knowledge of ghost fishing, the derelict fishing gear that contribute to it, the species mortalities, and the economic losses to certain fisheries due to ghost fishing mortalities. Gaps in knowledge are identified, and suggestions for the prevention and mitigation of DFG and possible future research foci are presented here within the framework of prevention, removal, and education as means of reducing ghost fishing.

Effects of ghost fishing lobster traps in the Florida Keys

Butler CB, Matthews TR. Effects of ghost fishing lobster traps in the Florida Keys. ICES Journal of Marine Science [Internet]. 2015 . Available from: http://icesjms.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2015/01/06/icesjms.fsu238.abstract
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Ghost fishing is the capacity of lost traps to continue to catch and kill animals. In the spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) fishery in Florida, the effects of ghost fishing are of particular concern, given the estimated 10s of 1000s of traps lost annually. We distributed 40 each of the three types of lobster traps (wire, wood–wire hybrid, and wood slat) at three locations in the Florida Keys to simulate ghost fishing. Divers monitored these traps biweekly for 1 year then monthly for two additional years, recording the time ghost traps remained intact and continued to fish, as well as the number of live and dead lobsters and other animals in each trap. Wood slat and hybrid traps remained intact and fished for 509 ± 97 (median ± median absolute deviation) and 480 ± 142 d, respectively. Wire traps fished significantly longer (779.5 ± 273.5 d, p < 0.001), and several fished until the end of the experiment (1071 d). Traps in Florida Bay fished longer (711.5 ± 51.5 d) than traps inshore (509 ± 94.5 d) and offshore (381 ± 171 days; p < 0.001) in the Atlantic Ocean. More lobsters were observed in hybrid traps (mean = 4.81 ± 0.03 s.e.) than in wood slat (3.85 ± 0.16) or wire traps (3.17 ± 0.03; F = 40.15, d.f. = 2, p < 0.001). Wire traps accounted for 83% of fish confined overall and 74% of the dead fish observed in traps. Ghost traps in Florida Bay and Atlantic inshore killed 6.8 ± 1.0 and 6.3 ± 0.88 lobsters per trap annually, while Atlantic offshore traps killed fewer (3.0 ± 0.69) lobsters, likely as a result of lower lobster abundance in traps. The combined effects of greater lobster mortality and greater abundance of lost traps in inshore areas account for the majority of the estimated 637 622 ± 74 367 (mean ± s.d.) lobsters that die in ghost traps annually.

Subscribe to RSS - Derelict Fishing Gear and Ghost Fishing