To get rid of lost custom fishing nets and gear employed in both artisan and leisure fishing through the seabed in order to prevent negative environmental influence on marine ecosystems may be the main objective from the campaign which had been put in place on 12 June, at 10 a.m. The campaign was created aboard in the ship Freuetó, which departs from the port of L’Estartit. It is an initiative led by a group of experts through the Department of Ecology as well as the Biodiversity Research Institute (IRBio) in the University of Barcelona (UB) alongside the Montgrí, Medes Islands and Baix Ter Natural Park.
UB experts Bernat Hereu, Cristina Linares, Pol Capdevila and Eneko Aspillaga participated in this primary action to detect and take away lost fishing gear. The campaign aims at minimizing the impact that fishing gear produces in the seabed and marine ecosystems. It will also increase natural park users’ knowledge of the fragility from the seabed along with the efforts that really must be made as a way to preserve and recover natural heritage.
Most gear utilized in leisure fishing and artisan fishing are passive. Quite simply, gear will not be spread out by power-driven boats and is not swept across the seabed. “However, when nylon fishing nets (hooks, threads, weights, long lines, trammel, etc.) go missing or trapped on the seabed, they could produce severe impacts on marine ecosystems,” says Bernat Hereu, professor inside the Department of Ecology of your UB and coordinator of your scientific campaign.
Lost fishing gear are real “ghost nets” that continue catching fish for a lot of months without any sort of profit for fisheries. According to experts, they are responsible for a very high amount of incidental bycatch of commercial and non-commercial species worldwide. Moreover, caught fish can be a death trap for marine birds like cormorants and shags.
Lost fishing nets, which may be a huge selection of metres long, are swept along the seabed with the movement of water masses (water currents, storms, etc.), and may become fouled with sessile organisms that inhabit marine seabed.
“Communities inhabiting the seabed -particularly coralline- are comprised by a great deal of slow growing organisms which present a fragile structure, like algas calcareas, gorgonians, bryozoans, arborescent algae, etc. They are particularly sensitive to any physical alteration and they also need a lot time and energy to recover,” emphasizes Bernat Hereu.
Long lines and hooks may also produce severe damages to benthos after they become fouled in sessile organisms (gorgonians, coral, algae, etc.). You should highlight that, as times goes by, plastic utilized to manufacture fishing gear degrades and enters marine trophic network, which implies a whole new threat on the conservation of numerous species that ingest them accidentally.
Fishing nets also endanger safety in areas such as the Catalan coast in which there is indeed much leisure and tourism activity relevant to the seabed. They involve particular risks for navigation (nets become fouled in propellers, as an example), swimmers and scuba divers. Besides its environmental impact, lost fishing gear creates 12dexipky bad image that discourages tourism.
The protocol to remove lost nets within the Montgrí, Medes Islands and Baix Ter Natural Park is part of your project in the research group MedRecove, which designs several measures to stop and mitigate cheap cast nets remains. The project, that may be extended with other aspects of the Catalan coast, includes campaigns for sensitizing fishers; campaigns for detecting nets with the collaboration of fishers, swimmers, scuba divers and sailors, and the removal of nets with minimum environmental impact.