The seemingly harmless simplicity of snagged fishing tackle on a reef at Gericke’s Point near Sedgefield in the Garden Route.
Snagged hooks like this, with fresh bait still on, pose the potential of Ghost Fishing, the term used to describe when lost fishing tackle continues fishing. Once a fish takes the bait and is hooked, it struggles till it dies and then itself becomes bait for another fish. Estimates are that lost fishing hooks have the potential of ghost fishing up to 10 fish, a senseless reduction of biodiversity.
While ghost fishing attributed to commercial fishing with trawl nets, longlines and crab pots is well studied, little data is available on the contribution of recreational fishing to ghost fishing.
Ghost Fishing is the indiscriminate capture or entanglement in lost or discarded fishing gear that leads to the death of a species.
From our initial surveys at the Strandloper Project, we have recovered 2.3 lead sinkers and 2 hooks per meter of reef which poses a huge risk to reef fish populations.
The snagged baited hook pictured above was removed minutes before a Pajama Shark (Poroderma africanum) swam to the location to investigate the scent. Without our intervention it could have become a victim to ghost fishing. Earlier this year we did recover a medium sized Pajama Shark killed on a snagged hook.
To all recreational fishermen, consider fishing where you tackle won’t snag. In addition, make every concerted effort to recover your lost tackle, even if it means that you need to dive occasionally to clean up. It is a mess under the surface and you are only creating a negative impact on a resource that you are targeting.
Research by Marrissa Naidoo of the Knysna Basin Project on micro plastics has revealed that the majority of samples are of Micro plastics fibers derived from fishing line and measure about 500 micron.
For more details on the Strandloper Project visit our website