To remove lost custom fishing nets and gear used in both artisan and leisure fishing through the seabed in order to prevent negative environmental impact on marine ecosystems is the main objective of the campaign which was put in place on 12 June, at 10 a.m. The campaign was designed on board from the ship Freuetó, which departs from your port of L’Estartit. It is an initiative led by a group of experts from your Department of Ecology along with the Biodiversity Research Institute (IRBio) in the University of Barcelona (UB) together with the Montgrí, Medes Islands and Baix Ter Natural Park.
UB experts Bernat Hereu, Cristina Linares, Pol Capdevila and Eneko Aspillaga took part in this primary action to detect and remove lost fishing gear. The campaign aims at minimizing the impact that fishing gear produces around the seabed and marine ecosystems. It will also increase natural park users’ awareness of the fragility of the seabed and also the efforts that must definitely be made so that you can preserve and recover natural heritage.
Most gear utilized in leisure fishing and artisan fishing are passive. To put it differently, gear is not really distributed by power-driven boats and is also not swept over the seabed. “However, when nylon fishing nets (hooks, threads, weights, long lines, trammel, etc.) go missing or trapped around the seabed, they could produce severe impacts on marine ecosystems,” says Bernat Hereu, professor from the Department of Ecology of the UB and coordinator in the 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. As outlined by experts, they are responsible for an increased portion of incidental bycatch of commercial and non-commercial species around the globe. Moreover, caught fish could 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 down the seabed through the movement of water masses (water currents, storms, etc.), and can become fouled with sessile organisms that inhabit marine seabed.
“Communities inhabiting the seabed -particularly coralline- are comprised by a substantial amount of slow growing organisms which present a fragile structure, like algas calcareas, gorgonians, bryozoans, arborescent algae, etc. These are particularly sensitive to any physical alteration and they need so much a chance to recover,” emphasizes Bernat Hereu.
Long lines and hooks might also produce severe damages to benthos whenever they become fouled in sessile organisms (gorgonians, coral, algae, etc.). It is essential to highlight that, as times goes by, plastic used to manufacture fishing gear degrades and enters marine trophic network, which means a whole new threat on the conservation of many species that ingest them accidentally.
Fishing nets also endanger safety in areas much like the Catalan coast in which there is really much leisure and tourism activity linked to the seabed. They involve particular risks for navigation (nets become fouled in propellers, for instance), swimmers and scuba divers. Besides its environmental impact, lost fishing gear creates 12dexipky bad image that discourages tourism.
The protocol to take out lost nets within the Montgrí, Medes Islands and Baix Ter Natural Park is a component of a project in the research group MedRecove, which designs a series of measures to prevent and mitigate Nylon Monofilament Cast Nets remains. The project, which is often extended for some other elements of the Catalan coast, includes campaigns for sensitizing fishers; campaigns for detecting nets together with the collaboration of fishers, swimmers, scuba divers and sailors, and removing nets with minimum environmental impact.