Changing fishing habits to reduce Ghost Fishing

A sample of nurdles collected on a 1m transect on a beach in the Garden Route.

Internationally there is mounting pressure to ban plastics to save our oceans. While the emphasis is to pressure producers and retailers to wean their production and packaging from plastics, it must also become the responsibility of consumers to stop using the products.

Recreational activities also have to initiate a transformation of mindset.

Diving out snagged fishing tackle and sinkers on a reef in the Garden Route.

In the recreational fishing industry for example, snagged fishing tackle on rocky reefs is a combination of pollution, degradation of the environment and a contribution to ghost fishing.

Few people know what ghost fishing is with the emphasis of awareness placed on industrial fishing like trawling and long lining.

Ghost fishing is the ability for lost fishing gear, nets and long lines, to continue fishing and killing aquatic species long after they have been lost.
Little or no information is available on the contribution of recreational #shoreline fishing to ghost fishing.

Sinkers collected from an 80m Transect of reef at a popular fishing site, Gericke’s Point.

From a series of surveys that we have conducted in the Garden Route we have recovered up to 2.3 hooks per meter. We have documented 5 ghost fished fish from one location. With studies estimating that a snagged baited hook has the potential to catch and kill up to 10 fish, the potential loss of fish along this reef and others along the South African coastline is substantial.

A new mindset is required for fisherman to only cast where their tackle won’t be snagged and lost.

Live bait fish on a hook of tackle which is snagged on the reef.

The snagged fishing tackle clearly seen on the reef.

These images are of snagged fishing tackle that we recovered. The fish was used as live bait. Snagged to the reef, it had the pitential to catch and kill another fish, a sequence that could continue up to 10 times.

While complaints are made about overfishing, fisherman taking responsibility for ghost fishing is also important to allowing sustainable resources.

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