By Kimani Wiseman
When we as humans hear the word “ghost”, the first thing that might come to our mind is the disembodied spirit of a dead person who haunts the living, or maybe a horror movie “House on Haunted Hill” .However, in the ocean there is a ghost that haunts and assassinates marine animals, this ghost is “ghost fishing”.
Ghost fishing is the accidental capture of aquatic organisms by fishing gears for example fishing nets, fishing lines, traps, and pots that have been lost or discarded into the sea, which continues to entangle or trap aquatic animals. Marine animals are already suffering from ghost fishing.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gears in the ocean makes up around 10 percent (640,000 tonnes) of all marine litter.
Ghost fishing kills thousands of animals a year around the world. According to a National Geographic article published on August 29th 2018 the article states that more than 300 olive ridley sea turtles died in Mexico after becoming entangled in a fishing net. In January of 2019, a huge ghost fishing net estimated to be more than 100 ft long washed up on a beach in corn wall, luckily dozens of crabs and lobsters were rescued. World Economic Forum published an article on February 5th 2019 stating that 800,000 tonnes of fishing gear is left in the world’s ocean each year (https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/02/ghost-fishing-oceans-how-to-tackle-it/)
Ten percent of the world’s population depends on fisheries for livelihoods, and 4.3 billion people are reliant on fish for 15 percent of their animal protein. Globally: Climate change is already causing coral bleaching and ocean acidification, 8 million tonnes of plastics are already in the ocean killing marine animals and it is estimated that by 2050 there would be more plastic than fish in the ocean if nothing is done urgently, eutrophication is causing an outbreak of algae depleting the oxygen in streams and the ocean, ghost fishing is causing entanglement. How many more nightmares can these marine animals take?
Here are some solutions for ghost fishing:
• Fisher folks should report lost fishing gears in a timely manner. Modern nets and fishing lines are made from synthetic materials, such as monofilament or nylon, which take decades, even hundreds of years to decompose in water. Abandoned nets that remain anchored become weighted down with sea life, making them more difficult to remove.
• Drones can be used to identify lost fishing gears that might be floating in the ocean. The coast guard can also play an active role by helping to recover any lost fishing gear.
The greatest rapper of all time Tupac Shakur has a song name “changes”. The song begins with “I see no changes”. Can countries around the world make some changes to protect and conserve the ocean to help feed the world’s population, to sustain livelihoods, and to protect these animals from going extinct?