Nine Fisheries Responsible for Marine Life Waste


Recent reports indicate that US fisheries throw back as much as one-fifth of what they catch back into the ocean. What is alarming is the fact that all of the catch thrown back dies in the process. This regular practice of almost nine fisheries is responsible for increasing exposure of marine life to disposed waste.

Unwanted animals thrown back into the ocean are known as bycatch. These include thousands of whales, sharks, dolphins, fishes that are not to be captured as part of commercial fishing. The situation was assessed by the non-profit group Oceana. Oceana is the largest ocean conservation organization that works on an international level. Founded in 2001, their main purpose is to preserve and protect the world’s ocean along with all the marine life in it. They usually achieve the goal through targeted policy campaigns.

Oceana observed that although great care is observed to avoid bycatch as much as possible, almost 22 percent of the catch still ends up being unwanted. Different methods pose different threats to marine life, experts believe that gillnet fisheries and open ocean trawl-among others- are most responsible for the discarded fish in the United States.

These reports also identified that nine fisheries across the country had a bigger role to play in polluting the world’s oceans and laying waste to the marine life. All of the companies mentioned use the same method mentioned and two of these were from the west coast.

California set gillnet fishery mainly focuses on the capture of white sea bass and California halibut. At a 65 percent discard rate most sea lions, sharks and other species of fish also get ensnared in the process. California drift gillnet fishery with a 63 percent discard rate focuses on swordfish and thresher sharks. Unfortunate and unsuspecting animals that get caught in the process include large whales, seals blue sharks and many other.

Others in the list include New England Mid Atlantic gillnet fishery with a discard rate of 16 percent. Among the animals captured where 2000 dolphins, and seals. Mid-Atlantic bottom trawl fishery with a discard rate of 33 percent were responsible for capturing 200 marine mammals and over 300 sea turtles. Gulf of Alaska trawl fishery, Northeast trawl, Southeast snapper grouper longline fishery had a discard rate of 35 percent, 35 percent and 66 percent respectively.

Many were surprised when Oregon’s fisheries were not included in the list. Fisheries in Oregon focus on the capture of small shrimps. They make use of a excluder grates that manage to capture the smaller shrimps while avoiding the bigger fishes. The method however does not account for the many eulachon smelts that get captured along with the shrimps. Eulachon smelts are endangered species with their numbers dwindling to dangerous lows every year.

Popular methods used by these fisheries are responsible for harming species that have already been classified as endangered. Many are even on the verge of falling to this status. Even though these fisheries make a habit of throwing back the unwanted species, most die in the process or are fatally injured. Oceana’s Pacific campaign manager Ben Enticknap  said safer alternates have to be adopted to ensure that marine life is protected from the waste these fisheries dump back into the ocean. More importantly species that are not part of commercial fishing should be well protected and their numbers well-preserved.

By Hammad Ali


13 Responses to "Nine Fisheries Responsible for Marine Life Waste"

  1. aurum79   March 23, 2014 at 6:25 am

    These actions are a disgrace. A boycott is in order. Wreckless slaighter for profit should have ended more than a century ago. Time for “the greatest catchers” to be caught themselves. Ask how your fish was caught. You too, Japan.

  2. Curtis   March 23, 2014 at 6:17 am

    That is the answer. More laws. Don’t like it, don’t eat it. In fact if you like your vegetables we will let you keep your vegetables. If you like your fruit you can keep your fruit.

  3. Terrence Earle   March 23, 2014 at 5:55 am

    What it comes down to is the fact we need to stop trawling boats, we need to use smaller nets, half the fish that make it to shore don’t even sell and die. From an economical point it produces more money because they can haul more, but from a logical point it’s wasteful. Not only does it kill the ecosystem but also cheapens a product.

  4. David Carnes   March 23, 2014 at 5:36 am

    The problem is we don’t really know where the balance is.The ocean is both robust and fragile.Fisherman are farmers who have a stake in the health of the seas.They don’t want to see there way of life die out anymore than we .I live in Northern Indiana and the waters I fish are healthier than ever yet every year someone is predicting eminent dome.

    • Wayne Sentman   March 23, 2014 at 6:08 am

      David, the problem is we DO know where the balance is, but we continue to ignore it. While I do not doubt that many small scale fisherman are concerned about the health of the oceans, however the larger industrial fisheries do not appear to be, and continue to rape the seas of life as fast as they can. They constantly lobby for relaxed regulation and seek exemptions from science backed limitations that could afford some fisheries a chance to rebound. I also take exception to the idea that the waters you fish today in Indiana “are healthier than ever” that is a naive view. You should not be comparing river conditions in Indiana to what you remember as a kid, but rather to what they were recorded to be like in the early 1800’s. You memory is influenced from something known as shifting baselines, where you are likely comparing what you see now to a time of even greater disruption (60’s and 70’s before most environmental regulations). So while things may appear to be healthier than you remember, they are still a far cry from healthy, and what they should/could be.

  5. Terrance Smith   March 23, 2014 at 4:38 am

    This is just another chapter to what this “Christian” nation called America does. Death and destruction all in the name of profit. Do you really think YOUR Jesus approves of all of this death and waste? Not only in the fishing industry but also with the commercial animal farming business.

    • Jim Hargett   March 23, 2014 at 4:41 am

      Thank you Terrance! Plant foods offer such a wealth of alternate and tasty healthy benefits.

  6. Davey Boy   March 23, 2014 at 3:47 am

    The 20% bycatch is a reality that is acceptable. What do you want them to do with it? They can’t bring it in for processing because it is either illegal or worthless. They have no other choice other than to throw it overboard. It then becomes food for all of the other fish that follow them waiting for a meal to sustain their existence. In other words, it has distinct value that the people who print this garbage choose to ignore or educate the reader to.

    The previous comment that suggested that all the methods of catch and bycatch are being improved is spot on.

    The authors of these articles are doing a disservice to the world and normally have a pet twisted philosophy that they want to foster upon the reader. The trouble with this country is the media is rife with these twisted jerks that would love to disrupt everything that is good about the USA.

    • Jim Hargett   March 23, 2014 at 4:40 am

      To Davey Boy: “It then becomes food for other fish”; humans can ‘extinct’ all life for their gluttonous stomachs and unfettered taste buds! Having been a vegetarian for years with my doctor astonished at my improved health, I tell all “I eat nothing with a face”. These nine fisheries that destroy so much of the ‘Circle of Life’ within our oceans are VERY fortunate I have zero power to stop all ocean fishing. For those of you who think you have to eat other lives, fresh water harvesting of designated fish hatcheries is your answer. My home state, Alabama has thousands of catfish hatchery lakes.

  7. John Brewer   March 23, 2014 at 3:24 am

    I accidentally wrote over $100,000,000.00. I missed some zeroes. The actual amount is over $100,000,000,000.00.

  8. John Brewer   March 23, 2014 at 3:14 am

    Bycatch is a misnomer. It is BYKILL. Recreational fisherman do very little harm to the environment, while industrial “fishing” boats destroy huge tracts of the Ocean environment. Those who want fish in their diet should catch their own. Those who fish for their own table fare can release unwanted or illegal animals unharmed. Besides, recreational fishermen contribute over $100,000,000.00 to the U.S. economy while the commercial industry accounts for a tiny fraction of that amount. Fine eating fish can be caught almost everywhere in this country. We should teach kids to fish, appreciate our delicate outdoors and be responsible stewards of our precious environment. I have personally witnessed the decline in wildlife in our oceans and other waterways over the years. It is up to the individual to do his part in guarding what little we have left. We need to be intelligent with our resources. It’s already nearly too late.

  9. AnotherVoice   March 23, 2014 at 1:33 am

    Commercial fisher are obeying all of the laws. They throw back what is illegal for them to catch as they are told. If they were to keep those illegal fish (etc.) they would be fined huge amounts of money. I’m not a commercial fisherman, so this isn’t a biased post. Fishing is very regulated in the USA — what, when, where, how often, how much, etc. are all accounted for. Maybe we need to accept the fact that improvements are being made and there is just going to be a percentage of “loss”. Many of the groups who are against fishing altogether (because they are vegan and/or have some moral or ethical issues with the activity) would simply like to see the whole industry stop. I doubt they are very interested in just the “casualties”. One answer could be doing more raising of fish in select areas of seawater (fish farming) — but telling the fishing industry they are “bad and wasteful” while they are doing all they can to do their jobs and obeying all of the regulations isn’t going to help the situation.

  10. tad   March 23, 2014 at 1:14 am

    Alarming. can citizens help…is there pending legislation or moment towards new policies?


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