What does bycatch mean?


What is bycatch? Fishermen sometimes catch and discard animals they do not want, cannot sell, or are not allowed to keep. This is collectively known as “bycatch.” Bycatch can be fish, but also includes other animals such as dolphins, whales, sea turtles, and seabirds that become hooked or entangled in fishing gear.

What does bycatch mean in fishing?

What is bycatch? Fishermen sometimes catch and discard animals they do not want, cannot sell, or are not allowed to keep. This is collectively known as “bycatch.” Bycatch can be fish, but also includes other animals such as dolphins, whales, sea turtles, and seabirds that become hooked or entangled in fishing gear.

What are the causes of bycatch?

Bycatch occurs because modern fishing gear is very efficient, often covers an extensive area, and can be highly unselective—it catches not only the target species but many other marine animals as well. Poor fisheries management in certain countries further contributes to the problem.

What is the difference between overfishing and bycatch?

The Gulf Restoration Network has a list of fish species designated as overfished. Bycatch on the other hand, is the incidental catch of non-target animals during commercial fishing operations.

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What is bycatch and why is it an environmental problem?

Bycatch is the capture or entanglement of non-target species, juvenile fish, or other animals like seabirds, marine mammals, or endangered sea turtles in fishing gear. Lost and abandoned fishing gear can also continue to fish indiscriminately, creating bycatch and scouring habitats for long periods of time.

What animal is most affected by bycatch?

Many animals are impacted, with the species most drastically hurt being sharks, seabirds, turtles, and dolphins.

How many fish are killed by bycatch?

About 40 percent of fish caught worldwide are captured unintentionally and are either thrown back dying or left to die on the boat. This amounts to around 38 million tonnes of sea creatures caught as bycatch every year.

What are the causes of bycatch?

Bycatch occurs because modern fishing gear is very efficient, often covers an extensive area, and can be highly unselective—it catches not only the target species but many other marine animals as well. Poor fisheries management in certain countries further contributes to the problem.

How do you stop bycatch fishing?

Fitting lights to fishing gear has been found to reduce the number of marine creatures caught as bycatch, making fishing more sustainable.

How much of fishing is bycatch?

BYCATCH, OR THE CATCH OF NON-TARGET FISH AND OCEAN WILDLIFE, IS ONE OF THE LARGEST THREATS TO MAINTAINING HEALTHY FISH POPULATIONS AND MARINE ECOSYSTEMS AROUND THE WORLD. According to some estimates, global bycatch may amount to 40 percent of the world’s catch, totaling 63 billion pounds per year.

What do fishermen do with bycatch?

After fishers open the nets, they sort through the animals, and separate the ones they will kill (or leave to suffocate or bleed out on ice) from the non-target animals. The bycatch is then thrown back into the ocean, but at that point, many of the animals are already dead or dying.

Which fishing industry has the largest bycatch?

Shrimp trawling Shrimp trawl fisheries catch two percent of the world total catch of all fish by weight, but produce more than one-third of the world total bycatch.

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How many dolphins are killed as bycatch?

About Operation Dolphin Bycatch Scientific evidence shows between 6,000 and 10,000 dolphins are dying each year due to non-selective fishing methods used to target sea bass.

What is meant by ghost fishing?

Ghost fishing is a term that describes what happens when derelict fishing gear ‘continues to fish’. Atlantic croaker trapped within a derelict or “ghost” crab pot pulled from the York River in Virginia.

What would happen if we stopped fishing for a year?

Millions would struggle to eat and earn enough Around the world, 40 million people earn their living directly from catching wild fish, while another 19 million are employed in aquaculture – fish-farming or growing seafood in controlled conditions such as sea pens and cages, lochs and ponds.

What is a more sustainable way to fish?

Rod-and-reel fishing results in less bycatch because non-targeted species can be released immediately. Additionally, only one fish is caught at a time, preventing overfishing. For commercial fishers, rod-and reel-fishing is a more sustainable alternative to long lining.

Why is bycatch not good?

Why is bycatch a problem? Problems associated with bycatch include: endangered, threatened and protected species such as turtles and dolphins are accidentally caught, injured or killed. the food chain is disrupted by inadvertently taking fish that other fish rely on as food.

How many animals are killed as bycatch each year?

Every year, fisheries around the world unintentionally catch and throw away more than 10.3 million tonnes of sea life: creatures that include fish, shellfish, corals, sponges, marine mammals, seabirds, sharks and sea turtles. 1 It’s called bycatch, and it’s a problem both ecologically and economically.

How is bycatch affecting marine life?

Bycatch can slow the reconstructing of overfished stocks, and spot secured species, for instance, whales and sea turtles at extra risk. Bycatch of species like corals and sponges can make harm to secured corals and to significant fish territory.

Which animals are caught in bycatch?

Bycatch can be fish, for example undersized animals, egg-laden females, or non-target species. It also includes other animals such as dolphins, turtles and seabirds that can get hooked or entangled in fishing gear.

How much of the world’s catch is bycatch?

In total, 38 million tonnes of sea creatures are unintentionally caught. That is 40% of fish catch worldwide. A large amount of this is either thrown back into the sea as ‘rubbish’, dead, dying or seriously injured, or disposed of on land.

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How many animals are caught as bycatch?

In a single year, U.S. fisheries unintentionally catch almost 2,000 federally protected marine mammals, almost 12,000 sea turtles and more than 7,600 seabirds. Worldwide more than 650,000 marine mammals die as fishery “bycatch” annually.

How many sharks are killed by bycatch?

Approximately 50 million more sharks die annually as bycatch in unregulated fisheries, often through the use of destructive and indiscriminate fishing methods such as longlines, gillnets, and trawls.

Why is it important that bycatch is returned to the oceans?

Unmanaged unwanted catch can reduce the population of a fish species to a point where it is difficult to replenish. Where unwanted catch is not properly managed or mitigated, it can lead to devastating effects on habitats and marine life such as turtles and marine mammals.

How does bycatch contribute to overfishing?

Bycatch messes up the whole environment. Dumping dead fish and other carcasses overboard draws in ocean scavengers and affects nutrient cycles in the water. And the same types of fishing gear that accidentally kill marine mammals and turtles and birds can also mess up the physical environment.

What is bycatch and how can it be avoided?

Fish that are unintentionally caught but still sold in markets with the intended species. Certain characteristics of a target fish species may cause fishermen to avoid bringing them to sale. These include undesirable sex or size. Some species of fish bycatch are protected and thus cannot be sold.

Leigh Williams
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