Fishing Nets Cause Large-Scale Pollution
While straws, water bottles and shopping bags often get the spotlight when speaking of the plastic pollution threatening our oceans and coastlines there is another killer targeted by concerned environmentalists.
This deadly threat that you almost never hear about is abandoned fishing gear that can include huge nets that ensnarl and kill fish and marine life in large numbers on a daily basis.
A recent Huffington Post feature noted: “Each year, millions of tons of plastics end up in the oceans. Drinking straws are thought to make up less than 1 percent of that debris. By comparison, commercial fishing fleets lose or abandon more than 700,000 tons of plastic nets, lines and traps ― an estimated 10 percent of the plastic waste in the oceans and seas.”
Those in the know call it “ghost gear.” While they may lurk out of sight, abandoned fishing items kill millions of marine animals, including sharks, dolphins, seals and turtles.
These plastic nets are made to last for hundreds of years. But even when they degrade, they don’t just go away. They break down in microplastics – tiny particles that are toxic to all life.
Cleaning up ghost gear is difficult and costly. In October, a team of volunteers fished a gigantic net that weighed nearly 3 tons and measured 650 feet long out of the ocean off the coast of Italy, near Sicily.
The volunteers believe the net had been lingering 10 feet below the ocean surface for at least 10 years.
There is some good news to report. Using an advanced, high-tech process, monstrous fishing nets can now be recycled into “yarn” that can yield thousands of garments. Efforts are underway globally to reel in nets and other items linked to the fishing industry.
While it’s doubtful you or your friends use such industrial-sized nets, it is important to keep in mind that your tangled lines and other plastic accessories also add to the mess when cut loose and cast adrift at sea.
Sport fishing is a great way to enjoy the sea and its bounty. In fact, many of us are hooked on it! All we ask is we don’t limit our plastic pollution radar to straws, bags and bottles.
Oh, and be sure to invite us to your next fish fry!
Keeping our coast clear