Saturday, April 4, 2015

`Ghost nets’ causing immense damage to marine life | IndiLeak

Kochi: Even if this is being done unintentionally or out of sheer ignorance , the fact remains that the same is causing immense damage to marine fauna.

Predatory species like turtles are lured into the nets by the fish already caught and then become entangled themselves

Sample this: A report states that fishing nylon nets lost or abandoned, that are also called “Ghost Nets” which drift in the sea are actually harming sea life especially the highly endangered Olive Ridley Turtle of Odisha.

According to a report prepared by a citizen science-based ‘Olive Ridley Project’ to overcome the problem of ‘ghost nets’ in the Indian Ocean states that during the north-east monsoon thousands of Olive Ridley sea turtles migrating for nesting on Odisha coast are at risk owing to these ghost nets.

“Predatory species like turtles are lured into the nets by the fish already caught and then become entangled themselves. Often unable to break free from the mesh, they drown or slowly starve to death,” the report stated.

“The nets are made out of strong plastic-type material and persist in the water for a very long time, killing and killing again,” says the report published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

It states that the ‘ghost nets’ are pushed mostly from India’s waters across the Indian Ocean by East-West or West-East currents – depending on the monsoon – and many end up on the islands of the Maldives archipelago which spreads along a North-South line.
“Ghost nets from the Maldives have been found to have the same measurements of nets used in India,” says the report.

Here it may be noted that in the Maldives, the nets are totally banned and fishing is done by pole and line –a traditional, eco-friendly fishing method.

These floating ghost nets trap other nets, plastic and organic debris, as well as a range of fish, turtles, sea birds and marine mammals.

“Between July 2013-July 2014, at least 107 nets were found (in the Indian Ocean) and 74 analysed (in the Maldives, India and Sri Lanka). It is likely that many more floated by unseen,” the report further said.

These nets will often travel by ocean currents to considerable distances and have devastating effect on marine life.

“This means that their detrimental effects can be prevalent far from their original point of entry into the water. They will entangle many threatened animals along the way,” the report added.