Comparing ecological impacts of fishing gears
Sea turtles, starfish, dolphins, and seabirds are routinely caught and killed or injured in fishing gears aiming to catch other marine life bound for human consumption. This so-called bycatch can outweigh the actual target species by as much as 20 times. In addition, fishing gears inflict damage to corals and other seafloor habitats. "Shifting gears: assessing collateral impacts of fishing methods in US waters," which appears in this months issue of the Ecological Society of Americas journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, ranks the ten most commonly used fishing gears in the United States by their ecological impacts.
Integrating the knowledge and judgment of fisheries scientists and fishers to assess the relative ecological severity of various fishing gears, the authors found that bottom gears--such as dredges and trawls--as well as midwater gillnets, inflict the highest level of damage to habitat and marine vertebrates and invertebrates.
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