Monday, May 19, 2008

Ireland to hunt nightmare fishing nets in north Atlantic

DUBLIN (AFP) - Ireland is to tackle the growing problem of so-called "ghost nets" that are destroying fish stocks in the northeast Atlantic Ocean, the Irish Sea Fisheries Board said Sunday.

The organisation said a series of pilot clean-up schemes, involving one Spanish and three Irish ships contracted to retrieve some of the thousands of kilometres of lost, dumped and abandoned nets, will run from June to September.

The scheme -- Operation Deepclean -- is being funded by the European Union at a cost of more than 500,000 euros (775,000 dollars) and will also seek to estimate the extent of the problem off the British and Irish coasts.

"The retrieval exercise will alleviate the problem of ghost fishing and help prevent further fish being caught in these nets," said Dominic Rihan, from the Irish Sea Fisheries Board.

"We also hope to get an estimate of the amount of lost nets in the particular areas."

"Ghost nets" are so called because they drift in the ocean after being abandoned or dumped and some have been found to be still catching fish and ensnaring other marine life for up to three years.

The fish are caught and die in the nets. The effect has been devastating with stocks of deepwater sharks falling to about 20 percent of original levels in less than 10 years.

It has been a growing environmental problem since the mid-1990s when a fleet of up to 50 vessels began gillnet fishing on the continental slopes in areas like Rockall and the Hatton Bank.

Most of the boats are based in Spain but registered in Britain, Germany and non-EU countries like Panama.

But although they seek to catch monkfish and deepwater shark, they also snare other species like halibut and ling.

No one is certain of just how many ghost nets there are either floating or fouling the seabed.

A joint Irish, Norwegian and British study from 2002 estimated that 1,254 kilometres (620 miles) of 600 by 50 metre (1,970 by 164 feet) sheets of nets were being lost every year but there was a reluctance to talk about the problem in the industry.

Original here

1 comment:

kapasjelzo said...

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