Check out the latest news and articles, including updates on related projects and sustainable marine resource management initiatives around the world.
June 21, 2016: Retrieving derelict fishing gear from BC waters with the Global Ghost Gear Initiative
This spring, Archipelago Marine Research worked with members of the Global Ghost Gear Initiative to retrieve a large abandoned fishing net near North Pender Island, British Columbia. Like most abandoned fishing gear, this derelict equipment had continued to trap local sea creatures—in this case, for more than three decades. Archipelago employee and GGGI volunteer Rachael Merrett assisted in the process of retrieving the net.
On April 16 and 17, 2016, Archipelago assisted in a derelict fishing gear removal project near North Pender Island, coordinated by members of the Global Ghost Gear Initiative. The target of this project was a derelict purse seine net that had been hung up on a reef since at least the 1980s. Commonly known as “ghost gear,” derelict fishing gear includes any lost, discarded or abandoned fishing gear within the ocean environment. Because the majority of fishing gear is made of durable plastic materials such as nylon, lost or discarded nets will remain in the environment for potentially hundreds of years, killing millions of organisms as they continue to ghost fish. When the nets do finally start to breakdown, they disintegrate into micro-plastics that are ingested by tiny organisms, moving up the food chain until they are present in the food we eat. Ghost gear can also lead to habitat degradation, and even pose a hazard to vessel navigation.
The Global Ghost Gear Initiative was founded by the World Animal Protection organization as part of the global Sea Change campaign to address the detrimental impacts of ghost fishing gear on the world’s oceans. Established in 2015, the GGGI is a cross-sectoral alliance of stakeholders representing the fishing industry, government, non-government organizations, the private sector, and civil society. All GGGI members are united in a common goal: to ensure safer, cleaner oceans by driving economically viable and sustainable solutions to the problem of ghost fishing gear. “By combining efforts globally, the GGGI aims to improve the health of marine ecosystems, protect marine animals from harm, and safeguard human health and livelihoods.”
How bad is the problem? Over 640,000 tonnes of fishing nets, traps and lines are lost globally in the oceans every year. At least 136,000 seals, sea lions and whale are killed by ghost gear annually. Marine habitats are destroyed and millions of dollars are lost by the fishing industry and governments because of the detrimental effects of ghost gear. As a company dedicated to preserving the health of our ocean resources, Archipelago Marine Research was more than willing to assist in this net removal project.
Rachael Merrett, a data technician with Archipelago’s fisheries monitoring division, also volunteers as a coordinator on a working group within the Global Ghost Gear Initiative, and assists as a marine naturalist with Orca Spirit Adventures whale watching, where she led Orca Spirit’s involvement in the project. Long-time captain Liz Calhoun graciously volunteered her time to captain the Orca Spirit observation vessel for the duration of the project.
The team set out with two boats: the dive boat containing gear removal equipment from the Northwest Straights Foundation, and the Orca Spirit observation vessel.
Having a second vessel allowed for the training of Canadian divers in gear removal by our American counterparts, as space was limited on the gear removal boat. As Canada does not yet have a government funded net removal program, local non-profit organization Emerald Sea Protection Society was established to tackle the problem in the Salish Sea area, with hopes of expanding their operations north along the BC coast.
A film crew and other GGGI members were also aboard the observation vessel to film the project and assist with any logistics. You can view some of this video coverage at the World Animal Protection site.
After two days of hard work, nearly two tonnes of net were brought to the surface. It was then transported to Vancouver, where GGGI member, Joel Baziuk of the Steveston Harbour Authority oversaw the disposal of the net. To minimize the amount of material sent to the landfill, the staff at Steveston Harbour Authority and the Emerald Sea Protection Society were determined to clean a portion of the net in order to collect data on the feasibility of cleaning nets well enough to be recycled for future gear removal projects. After many, many hours of hard work, the team cleaned a portion of the net well enough that it could be sent to PlastiX, a net recycling facility in Denmark where old fishing nets are turned into new products. During this procedure, Joel Baziuk created a video documenting the net removal and cleaning process.
Archipelago is proud to have been a part of this important conservation project in our local waters. As a member of the Global Ghost Gear Initiative, we aim to be part of the solution to solving the problem of derelict fishing gear in our oceans. For more information on net retrieval activities, visit the Global Ghost Gear Initiative web site.
May 31, 2016: Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen's Alliance launches EM program
National Fisherman – Beginning June 1, 2016, some New England fishermen will be flipping a switch on a brand new digital camera before they leave the dock. No, this isn’t just a way for them to send in more candid crew shots to National Fisherman — they’re finally getting a shot at electronic monitoring…The Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance says up to 20 groundfish boats will use the cameras to start…
Full story: “Smile, you’re on camera – National Fisherman”
April 28, 2016: AFMA’s e-monitoring hooks international interest
Australian Fisheries Management Authority – AFMA’s electronic monitoring program (e‑monitoring) continues to draw international interest as way of using new technology to improve fisheries management. Electronic monitoring uses an on-board system of sensors and video cameras to monitor fishing activities and catch.
Recently, the Vice-Director of the Fishing Boat Research Centre, from Taiwan’s Department of System and Naval Mechatronic Engineering in National Cheng Kung University travelled to Australia to see first-hand the benefits of e-monitoring. Taiwan is developing an e-monitoring system and is seeking expert advice before taking their program further.
While in Australia, the representative was shown how the program is run at AFMA. The trip included visits to AFMA’s e-monitoring service provider Archipelago Asia Pacific to see how footage is analysed and processed and to Ulladulla to see e-monitoring in operation on two Commonwealth tuna vessels. The representative was very impressed with the quality of the e-monitoring system used by AFMA and saw it being useful for both government regulators and the fishing industry.
The Taiwanese trip follows a visit last year from Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and the South Pacific Community based in Noumea, who are also considering adopting e-monitoring for use in their fisheries.
AFMA’s acting Executive Manager Fisheries, George Day, said it was pleasing to see the continued level of international interest in e-monitoring.
“E-monitoring is just one of the tools that AFMA is using to support managed fisheries throughout the Western and Central Pacific Ocean,” Mr Day said.
“We will continue to work with our international counterparts to share information on the latest technology that can be used to support sustainable fisheries management globally.”
AFMA’s e-monitoring program has been operational in the Eastern and Western Tuna and Billfish, Small Pelagic, and Gillnet Hook and Trap fisheries since July 2015.
For more information about AFMA’s e-monitoring program, visit afma.gov.au.
April 15, 2016: Electronic monitoring of commercial fishing gets green light on West Coast
New program could set model for implementation In other U.S. fisheries
Environmental Defense Fund (Vancouver, WA) This week the Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to allow three West Coast commercial fishing fleets to employ camera-based electronic monitoring (EM) systems. Beginning in 2017, commercial fishing vessels can substitute cameras for human observers. This move will simplify logistics, reduce costs and increase profits for fishermen.
As of 2017, the fixed-gear, shore-based whiting trawl, and mothership catcher vessel fleets will no longer be required to carry human observers on fishing trips, as they currently do under the “full accountability” fishery management system that regulates these fleets.
Some 26 vessels have been piloting the EM system since 2015 under exempted fishing permits (EFP). The total number of vessels eligible to carry cameras based on this decision could be as many as 45. Council action for bottom trawl vessels will take place in 2017.
“This is precedent-setting because it’s the first Council-authorized electronic monitoring system to move from pilot project to full implementation in U.S. waters for purposes of catch accounting,” said Shems Jud, pacific regional director for Environmental Defense Fund’s Oceans Program. “The Council’s decision culminates several years’ worth of work by fishermen, the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, Council staff and NGOs. This decision represents a watershed moment in fisheries co-management in this region, and may serve as a model for others.”
West Coast groundfish fleets have been operating with 100 percent observer coverage since the groundfish IFQ program launched in January 2011. Logistical challenges, uneven availability of observers and shoreside monitors, and high observer costs shouldered by fishermen have been a significant source of frustration among the fleet.
Under the “optimized retention” approach adopted by the Council, fishermen’s logbook entries will be the primary data source, and they will be checked against the videos by authorized third parties.
“What this decision does is transfer responsibility for catch accounting from the federal government to vessel operators, where it should be,” said Heather Mann, executive director of the Midwater Trawler’s Cooperative, an Oregon-based organization representing 18 whiting vessels. “Skippers will use their logbook to track their catch, and electronic monitoring is there to verify that their logbook is accurate. This decision is a long-overdue acknowledgement that West Coast groundfish fishermen are responsible stewards of their fishery.”
Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading international nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on EDF Voices, Twitter and Facebook.
Source: EDF news release April 15, 2016
April 21, 2016: AFMA leading the way in fisheries technology
Australian Fisheries Management Authority – The Australia Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) electronic monitoring (e-monitoring) program is a first of its kind for fisheries management in the Asia-Pacific and as such continues to gain interest from our fisheries counterparts.
Speaking at the first meeting of the Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement (SIOFA) Scientific Committee on 21-24 March in Fremantle, Western Australia, Senior Fisheries Manager Officer Ryan Keightley outlined how AFMA’s e-monitoring program is a cost effective method of data collection and logbook verification that is improving the accuracy and reliability of data for Australia’s Commonwealth commercial fisheries.
SIOFA is a multilateral treaty for the conservation and management of Southern Indian Ocean fisheries to ensure they remain a sustainable, shared resource into the future. It governs fish stocks like orange roughy, alfonsino and rubyfish that are found in the southern Indian Ocean. It also has responsibility for managing the broader impacts of fishing on the marine environment and biodiversity in the region.
There was widespread agreement from member countries that e-monitoring could be used to complement an observer program and strengthen monitoring in the Southern Indian Ocean. The inclusion of e-monitoring as a potential data collection tool will be further discussed at the upcoming Meeting of the Parties to be held in La Réunion later this year.
Acting Executive Manager of Fisheries Management, George Day said that the level of interest from Asia-Pacific countries in e-monitoring was a testimony to its use in fishing management now and into the future.
“Its great news that more countries are looking at innovative technologies such as e-monitoring to help with the sustainable management of fisheries,” Mr Day said.
“We will continue to work with our international counterparts to share Australia’s experience with the latest in science and innovation to improve fisheries management across the globe.”
The meeting was attended by representatives from the Cook Islands, the European Union, France (in respect of its territories), Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mauritius, and the Seychelles. The meeting was Chaired by Australia’s Dr Ilona Stobutzki and the Australian delegation included representatives from AFMA, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.
For more information about AFMA’s e-monitoring program, visit afma.gov.au.
February 24, 2016: Onboard cameras vital for fish discard ban to succeed (WWF)
Between 2010-12, on average 40% (148,765 tonnes) of demersal (bottom dwelling) fish such as cod, haddock, plaice, caught in the North Sea were discarded with certain species being particularly affected – during this period, 43% of whiting and plaice, 25% of hake and up to 91% of dab ended up back in the sea[ii]. The landing obligation[iii] was created to end the wasteful practice of discarding, by requiring boats to bring all fish caught from certain species to land, so they can be fully documented and counted against fishing quotas.
The ban represents one of the biggest ever operational shifts in European fishing practices and will be challenging but if implemented effectively it can bring social, economic and environmental benefits – more fish in the sea, a more resilient, profitable industry and greater food security in future years. However for it to work, effective monitoring will be vital. Poor implementation carries the risk of illicit discarding at sea going unrecorded, potentially weakening scientific knowledge on fish stocks, which could mean the wrong quotas being set in future.
WWF’s report ‘Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM) in Fisheries Management’ compares REM to traditional monitoring methods[iv], such as aerial and boat surveillance, onboard observers, and dockside checks. It reveals that REM could offer a far more efficient and cost effective way of monitoring fishing activity and improving information on fish stocks. It also identifies where this technology has been trialled and how it is being used successfully elsewhere in the world.
The cameras, which would be used in conjunction with GPS and electronic sensors, can record continuous video during fishing. While 100% of fishing activity is recorded, usually around 10% is looked at – providing a snap shot of what is happening onboard a vessel. The video data is brought ashore using portable hard drives and reviewed to quantify the catches which can be compared against the fishermen’s logbooks to confirm that the landing obligation is being implemented effectively.
It is estimated that installing the equipment, and reviewing 10% of data could cost as little as £4,697 per vessel. Moreover, to equip and install all 10-metre plus fishing vessels in the UK fleet with REM camera systems, and to undertake a review of 8% of the footage shot could cost less than is currently spent on traditional monitoring options in the UK (which account for an estimated 0.1% of the hours fished by the fleet).
Key benefits of REM systems include:
- 100% coverage of fishing activity can be recorded with varying levels of footage monitored according to the level of risk associated with the fishery[v].
- REM offers a continuous monitoring presence, in comparison to traditional methods, which are only effective during the presence of the monitoring vessel, onboard observer or aircraft
- If undertaken by all EU fishing vessels, the system would help to ensure parity of compliance with the LO, delivering a level playing field for the fishing industry across all Member States.
- Data can be used for multiple purposes including contributing to and improving confidence in, stock assessment, or to demonstrate best practice
The report shows that all 10-metre plus EU fishing vessels could be monitored for 10% of the time they are at sea, for a cost of around €122 million. Given the announcement of a new €6.4 billion fund of money available across Europe to help implement the new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), of which the landings obligation is a key element this money could easily be made available to fishermen and administrations across the EU.
“Member States have an obligation to demonstrate that they are effectively monitoring compliance with the landing obligation,” says Helen McLachlan, Fisheries Governance Manager at WWF-UK. “It is difficult to see how they can do this without having good knowledge of what is happening at sea. Cameras offer by far the most effective means of doing this 100% of the time for a fraction of the cost of traditional methods.”
The full report is available to download as a pdf here.
i The Seminar on the Landings Obligation is being hosted by the European Commission (DG Maritime Affairs and Fisheries) on February 24th and will be attended by Member States, observers from the European Parliament, Advisory Councils and other stakeholders including WWF
ii Discard Atlas of North Sea Fisheries, 2014, http://www.wageningenur.nl/en/Publication-details.htm?publicationId=publication-way-343537323833
iii The Common Fisheries Policy came into force in January 2014, and included a ban on discarding fish at sea called the landing obligation. For more info see notes to editors
iv The traditional approach to monitoring includes undertaking dockside compliance and fish market visits; using aircraft (including unmanned aircraft) to overfly fishing vessels; using patrol vessels to undertake at sea boardings or surveillance; using Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) that use satellite positional data to work out location and speed of vessel; sending observers to sea for the duration of a sea trip to collect scientific data or evidence gathering for compliance; and using self-reported data (E-log, paper logbooks, sale notes, landing declarations).
v Discard Atlases – see footnote 2 – have been compiled for each sea area affected by the discard ban. These identify levels of discards associated with different gear types and the degree of confidence in the data. All of this can be used to inform management measures and where higher or lower levels of monitoring may be required.
February 24, 2016: Whale shark interaction – video footage consistent with observer report (AFMA)
This video footage is consistent with the report received by AFMA on 12 February 2016 from AFMA’s on-board scientific observer.
The video footage shows that the whale shark spent no more than four minutes out of the water. That is, the time from the animal being brought onto the boat, freed and being released back into the water was estimated to be 3min 35sec.
Monitoring of bycatch is a central component of overall fisheries management. It should be noted AFMA’s monitoring of the Geelong Star far exceeds that of any other Australian fishery, commercial or recreational.
As part of our approach, electronic monitoring (cameras) is used to verify logbook and other reporting regarding the catch of target species and protected species interactions. AFMA does not release electronic monitoring footage from commercial fishing vessels because it contains commercial-in-confidence and private information about companies and crews.
All interactions with protected species from the Commonwealth’s 300 plus fishing fleet are reported quarterly on AFMA’s website. Records of Commonwealth fishing vessel interactions with whale sharks are extremely rare.
January 29, 2016: Global Ghost Gear Initiative at Seafood Summit to show how tackling fishing litter needs urgent action
As part of a world-leading alliance to end the damaging impact of lost and abandoned fishing gear industry leaders Young’s Seafood, Sainsbury’s and Albion Fisheries are joining World Animal Protection for a solutions forum at the SeaWeb Seafood Summit in Malta on Feb 1-3, 2016.
The Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI), founded by World Animal Protection, will demonstrate how the seafood industry can play a critical part in solving this growing problem and how solutions can be at the forefront of innovation.
‘The Nets Big Thing’ event will show how industry influencers, through the GGGI, can pioneer the way to protecting ecosystems, marine animals and human health and livelihoods.
Lost and abandoned fishing gear, also known as ‘ghost gear’, poses a significant threat to the health and productivity of our oceans. Each year sees the appearance of new ghost gear due to factors such as extreme weather events, conflict between gear types, accidental loss or deliberate disposal at sea. Mostly made of plastic with a life expectancy of up to 600 years, ghost gear accumulates in our oceans at an estimated rate of 640,000 tonnes per year or one tonne of ghost gear per 125 tonnes of fish caught.
Ghost gear puts a strain on the livelihoods of coastal communities and productivity of the fishing industry. For example, the loss of marketable lobster due to ghost fishing gear is estimated to lead to a global loss of US$250 million per year.
The growing volume of ghost gear also causes huge devastation to marine habitats as it continues to catch, entangle and kill hundreds of species including seals, turtles, dolphins and whales. This equates to the weight of 3,560 Blue Whales, or the weight of the entire population of London (UK).
The causes and impacts of ghost gear link to many other urgent issues affecting the sustainability of fisheries including Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated fishing (IUU) and food security, making responsible management of fishing gear a high priority.
The GGGI Secretariat and founding participant, World Animal Protection said: “We are delighted to be joined by some of the most influential members of the seafood industry at our ‘Nets Big Thing’ event. Ghost gear is a largely hidden problem that poses a significant threat to the seafood industry and those that depend on healthy and productive oceans. The GGGI offers a practical means of addressing this seafood sustainability issue and alongside Sainsbury’s, Young’s and Albion Fisheries we will highlight how the seafood industry can lead the way in driving practical solutions that position fishing at the forefront of innovation.”
World Animal Protection together with Healthy Seas and Ghost Fishing, will also be carrying out a net removal operation on 31 January and 1 February near the doorstep of the Summit in Valletta, Malta in order to bring up as much waste nets as possible which is currently in the sea at shipwrecks and reefs. Speakers from World Animal Protection, Healthy Seas and Ghost Fishing will be at Techwise Dive Centre in St Julien’s from 4pm on Monday 1st, in order to speak with people about the solution projects involved with the GGGI that can use nets like this for recycling programmes. This particular pile of nets will be sent to Slovenia to be recycled by the Healthy Seas initiative.
Products already on the market using recycled ghost nets for good include carpet tiles, sportswear, skateboards and sunglasses.
For more on this, visit www.ghostgear.org.
The GGGI aims to improve the health of marine ecosystems, protect marine animals, and safeguard human health and livelihoods.
Founded on the best available science and technology, the GGGI is the first initiative dedicated to tackling the problem of ghost fishing gear at a global scale. The GGGI’s strength lies in the diversity of its participants including the fishing industry, the private sector, academia, governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations. Every participant has a critical role to play to mitigate ghost gear locally, regionally and globally.
As part of our collective impact we will contribute to the objectives of the Global Partnership on Marine Litter, which builds on the Honolulu Strategy and seeks to protect human health and the global environment by the reduction and management of marine litter.
The term ‘ghost gear’ refers to any fishing equipment or fishing-related litter that has been abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded. For example, nets, line, rope, traps, pots, floats and packing bands. This is also referred to as ‘derelict fishing gear’ and/or ‘fishing litter’. An estimated 640,000 tonnes of fishing gear – around 10% of global marine litter – is added to our oceans annually.
By bringing together innovators and experts from different sectors and countries, the GGGI will facilitate the development of new solutions to the ghost gear problem and the expansion and replication of existing effective models. The GGGI will also work to build evidence to understand the scale of the problem so that solutions can be directed where they are most needed. In this way, short term fishing gains will not cause long term damage to stock sustainability or degradation of marine ecosystems.
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