Report Blames Declining Fish Stock on Abandoned Gear

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In short
Edith Kabesiime, the Campaigns Manager for Wildlife at World Animal Protection, says since fishing gear is designed to trap and even kill fish; it still does the same when it is abandoned or lost.

A new report by the World Animal Protection released today attributes the declining fish stocks to abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear (ALDFG), which can take up to 600 years to decompose.

According to World Animal Protection, at least 640,000 tonnes of abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear also known as ghost gear are added to water bodies (Lakes and oceans) every year, killing and mutilating millions of marine animals - including endangered whales, seals, turtles.

The report notes that the vast majority of entanglements cause serious harm or death, adding that swallowing plastic remnants from ghost gear leads to malnutrition, digestive blockages, poor health and death in marine animals.

"The prevention of ghost gear is vital, as not only does it deplete fish stocks, it is also killing our marine life. Every year more than one hundred thousand whales, dolphins, seals and turtles become entangled in ghost gear," reads the report.
  
It adds that "Lost gear is four times more likely to trap and kill marine animals than all other forms of marine debris combined. In addition, it is also contributing to the ocean's plastic problem with more than 70% of macroplastics by weight being fishing related".
 
Edith Kabesiime, the Campaigns Manager for Wildlife at World Animal Protection, says since fishing gear is designed to trap and even kill fish; it still does the same when it is abandoned or lost.
 
"It's heart-breaking to know that animals caught in this incredibly durable gear can suffer from debilitating wounds or suffocate or starve to death over a number of months," she said.
 
Kabesiime also says sea food companies should be at the forefront of addressing the impact of ghost gear on marine life. "These companies must remember that consumers demonstrate they care about the welfare of animals when they are deciding what brands to put in their shopping baskets," said Kabesiime.
  
The ALDFG is an alliance founded by World Animal Protection in 2015 to tackle the problem of ghost fishing gear at a global scale. 

Although some reports indicate that the fish stocks in Uganda's lake Victoria has improved,  the number of fish catches declined by 18 per cent in the last three  years, something that led to the closure of some fish factories and low income among the fishing community.
 

 

About the author

Alex Otto
“Journalism that changes lives is my goal,” Alex Otto has said on more than one occasion. That is his career’s guiding principle. Has been since he was a radio journalist in the northern Ugandan town of Gulu in 2009.

Otto passionately believes his journalism should bring to the fore the voices of the voiceless like the shooting victims of Apaa. Otto tries in his journalism to ask tough questions to those in positions of authority.

Based in the Kampala bureau, Otto is especially interested in covering agriculture, politics, education, human rights, crime, environment and business. He has reported intensively on the post-conflict situation in northern Uganda.

A URN staff member since 2014, Otto previously worked with The Observer Newspaper from 2012 to 2013 and later the Institute for War and Peace Reporting IWPR based in Gulu.

He was the URN Gulu bureau chief 2014-2016.