Dumped fishing gear is killing marine life. Yet no governments seem to care - by George Monbiot

A fascinating article on the environmental impact of trawler fishing - this time from discarded fishing nets - according to leading environmental campaigner George Monbiot for The Guardian - 19.01.22.


“How do fishing vessels lose so many of their nets and longlines that this “ghost gear”, drifting through the oceans, now presents a mortal threat to whales, dolphins, turtles and much of the rest of the life of the sea? After all, fishing gear is expensive. It is either firmly attached to the vessel or, using modern technologies, easily located.


I’ve asked myself these questions for a while, and I think I now have an answer. It comes from an unlikely source: a trawlerman working in Scotland.


He and his colleagues now appear to be pulling in more nets than fish. On trip after trip they catch vast hauls of ghost gillnets and longlines, often wrapped around marine animals. He has sent me his photos, which are so disturbing I can scarcely bear to look: drowned seabirds, decapitated seals and fish and crustaceans of many species, which died a long, slow death. Where are these nets and lines coming from? He believes they’re being deliberately discarded.”


According to the trawlerman – who wishes to remain anonymous - the prime culprits are the French and the Spanish who spend up to six weeks at sea. Unlike their British counter-parts they don’t bring their waste back to port with them.


“He and his colleagues…often watch French and Spanish boats landing plenty of fish in Scottish ports when “no rubbish is taken ashore by these vessels”. He estimates that a typical crew of 20 on a month-long fishing voyage would generate roughly 20 cubic metres of waste, aside from the fishing gear. Where is it? There might be a clue in some of the other rubbish his boat trawls up: bin bags full of French and Spanish food wrappers. As for the gear, he tells me that he sees boats come into port and “miles and miles of new gillnetting is put onboard – but none is taken ashore for discard”.


The full article can be read here with a link to the original beneath it:



Article for The Guardian by George Monbiot - Dumped fishing gear is killing marine life bu
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