ANALYSIS - The term 'ghost fishing' has appeared quite frequently in the news lately as the fishing industry and organisations work together to try and solve the environmental problems caused by abandoned or lost fishing gear.
In a move to find solutions, a new study by researchers from the US's William & Mary's Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) has revealed the economic benefits to commercial fishermen worldwide of clearing up the problematic derelict fishing gear.
The study focused on a six year, collaborative program to remove derelict crab pots from Chesapeake Bay, showing that the effort generated more than $20 million in harvest value.
Extending their methodology to estimate the economic benefits of removing derelict crab pots and lobster traps on a global basis, the researchers showed that removal of even 10 per cent of derelict pots and traps from major crustacean fisheries - the percentage of the Bay's derelict pots they estimate were removed by the VIMS program - could increase landings by 293,929 metric tons, at a value of $831 million annually.
VIMS professor, Andrew Scheld, explained: "It is well known that derelict fishing gear can harm the environment and increase crab mortality, but the economic impacts of this 'ghost fishing' have rarely been quantified. Our study shows that VIMS' collaborative efforts to remove ghost crab pots from the lower Bay led to an additional 13,504 metric tons in harvest valued at $21.3 million - a 27 per cent increase above that which would have occurred had the pots stayed in place."
In aquaculture news, the work done by a tilapia farming improvement project in China has been praised by the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP).
The SFP states that the landmark aquaculture improvement project (AIP) embodies the ideal situation of a zonal aquaculture approach which is maintained by industry stakeholders.
The AIP takes a holistic approach to aquaculture, with the ultimate goal of ensuring that even competing fish farms can share a common waterway without impacting each other, or the environment.
The project is also directly responsible for China’s first industry-led set of standards for tilapia farming.
“This AIP is the best example of a zonal AIP in the world and also one that has strongly transitioned from SFP to industry-led, with support of a local NGO (China Blue), an international buyer (Fishin’ Co.) and many key local industry leaders,” said Anton Immink, SFP’s aquaculture director.