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Millions of tonnes of fish wasted every year: study

Last Updated Jul 5, 2017 at 9:34 am PDT

Industrial fishing in action: herrings caught in the net (iStock, Photo)
Summary

Almost 10 million tonnes of good fish are dumped back into the ocean every year

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Industrial fishing fleets dump nearly 10 million tonnes of good fish back into the ocean every year, according to new research.

A ten-year study from Sea Around Us, a projected based at the University of British Columbia and the University of Western Australia, has revealed there is an incredible amount of waste across the world, due to poor fishing practices and inadequate management.

“In those cases, the fisherman throws this stuff back into the water, that’s what’s called discard. In many cases, particularly for some of the larger industrial fishing methods like bottom trawling, most of that discarded catch will not survive,” says lead author and University of Western Australia professor Dr Dirk Zeller.

10 million tonnes is enough fish to fill 4,500 Olympic-sized swimming pools. While the discard number is lower now than it was in the 1980s, it still means about 10 per cent of the worlds total catch in the past decade was discarded.

That leads to depleted fish stocks.

“There are certain fish that a fisherman catches that he can sell and certain fish that he cannot sell, either because they’re not edible, they’re not marketable or because they’re damaged or, because they exceed a fisherman’s quota, his annual allocation of what he’s allowed to catch,” explains Zeller.

“Discards also happen because of a nasty practice known as high-grading where fishers continue fishing even after they’ve caught fish that they can sell,” said Zeller. “If they catch bigger fish, they throw away the smaller ones; they usually can’t keep both loads because they run out of freezer space or go over their quota.”