Abandoned fishing nets, also known as ghost nets, pose a significant environmental danger to the oceans and marine life. These seemingly harmless materials can stay submerged for decades and continue trapping and killing marine animals indiscriminately. The fishing nets that have been lost or discarded in the oceans are estimated to be around 640,000 tons by the United Nations Environmental Programme, which account for 10% of the plastic waste in the oceans.
Ghost nets can be found across all the world’s oceans, and their indiscriminate entanglement can result in the death of marine creatures such as fish, turtles, dolphins, and whales. These creatures can get entangled in abandoned fishing nets and suffocate or become trapped in them, leading to their slow and painful deaths. Studies have shown that over 300,000 whales, dolphins, and porpoises die in fishing nets each year, with many of them perish as a result of ghost nets.
There are also economic losses as the abandoned fishing nets can damage commercial fishing gear in areas where it is actively used. Ghost nets can wrap around propellers, anchor lines, and fishing gear. It can potentially create hazards to navigation and cause damage to boats, which can lead to safety concerns.
The primary cause of abandoned fishing nets is due to lost, discarded, or purposely left behind by fishermen. Some commercial fishing vessels intentionally dump fishing nets to avoid costs and weight, sometimes with illegal fishing activities, which is known as “pirate fishing.”
All marine life is precious, and it is critically important to take action towards preventing these tragedies from happening. Every country and every citizen can make a contribution to minimizing the impact of ghost nets in the oceans. Some projects have been established worldwide to remove these ghost nets, but the most effective approach is to prevent them from entering the ocean in the first place.
There are several practical solutions that can be implemented to reduce the impact of ghost nets, such as the introduction of laws and regulations that require companies to dispose of their waste properly. It is important to educate the fishing communities and provide incentives so they can dispose of their abandoned nets properly. Commercial fishers should be held accountable for their waste and act responsibly towards the environment.
In conclusion, the environmental dangers of abandoned fishing nets are widespread and need to be addressed urgently. To protect the marine ecosystem and maintain its biodiversity, it is crucial to take immediate action. Governments, organizations, and individuals must work together to safeguard the oceans to ensure sustainable fishing practices for future generations.