New project to deal with ghost fishing
A coordinated network will tackle this great problem. Observers of the Sea is the tool to centralize the data of sightings of ghost fishing.
Every year 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean. Of these, 70% are abandoned or lost fishing gear, according to estimates by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). These fishing gears constitute ghost fishing, a problem linked to rudimentary, unregulated or illegal fishing activities that threaten biodiversity, the sustainability of fishing and the safety of navigation.
To face this threat, research institutions, marine fauna rescue centers, port authorities, diving centers and associations of fishermen and sailors have created a coordinated network of action in the western and central Mediterranean. The actions of this network will focus on reporting this problem, gathering information and removing these dangerous drifting artifacts, as well as the rescue of sea turtles trapped in them.
As a central tool for the coordination of this network, the Ghost Fishing project has been launched on the Observadores del Mar platform, a benchmark marine citizen science platform in Spain that integrates citizen data for marine conservation. These data, validated by the scientific team responsible for the project, will serve for the proper management of this scourge in the Mediterranean.
“Abandoned or lost fishing gear is a threat to fisheries, marine wildlife and safety at sea. We can all help combat this threat, which is why we call on citizens to report this problem to Observadores del Mar” declares Ricardo Sagarminaga, head of the scientific team of the Ghost Fishing project and president of the Alnitak entity.
The action network is coordinated by: Alnitak, Hombre y Territorio, ICTS SOCIB, Equinac, Fundación Palma Aquarium, Save the Med, APERRS, Carbopesca. In addition, various entities actively collaborate: NOAA - NMFS, USFWS, Nature Trust Malta, CECAM, CEGMA, ANSE, Oceancare, among others.