A new report from Oceana exposes the nine worst fisheries in the United States that contribute greatly to our country’s bycatch problems. Bycatch is a term used to describe any fish or marine life caught in the net of a fishing company that was not the “target” catch. The creatures that are unintentionally caught in nets are discarded. More often than not, they are injured or die while trapped in the nets. These nine fisheries average a bycatch rate of 50 percent, meaning half of what they catch is considered “waste.”
One reported fishery caught and discarded more than 400,000 sharks in one year. Sharks aren’t the only victims of bycatch, but endangered and protected marine life fall into the nets of these reckless fisheries. The problem lies in the use of outdated, inhumane fishing methods like trawling and gillnetting that trap dolphins, whales, and sea turtles. These nets are not regularly monitored, but checked in time lapses long enough to cause trapped marine life to drown.
There are many simple solutions and net alternatives that could help prevent millions of marine species from becoming bycatch every year. Holding these nine fisheries accountable for their harmful practices is only the first step, as a nation it is clear we need to raise our standards to ensure the safety of our ocean’s precious species.