‘Ghost nets’ harming and killing marine species: Study

Thursday, Apr 2, 2015,20:18 IST By metro vaartha A A A

Kochi | Lost, abandoned or discarded fishing nets, also known as ‘ghost nets’, drifting in the Indian ocean currents are harming and killing marine species, particularly Olive Ridley turtles of Odisha, according to a report. The report prepared by a citizen science-based ‘Olive Ridley Project’ to tackle the problem of ‘ghost nets’ in the Indian Ocean says that during the north-east monsoon, tens of thousands of Olive Ridley sea turtles on their way to and from their mass nesting event in Odisha are threatened by such nets.
Predatory species like turtles are lured into the nets by the fish already caught and then become entangled themselves. Often unable to break free from the mesh, they drown or slowly starve to death, it said. The nets are made out of strong plastic-type material and persist in the water for a very long time, killing and killing again, says the report published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
According to it, ‘ghost nets’ are pushed mostly from India’s waters across the Indian Ocean by East-West or West-East currents  depending on the monsoon  and many end up on the islands of the Maldives archipelago which spreads along a North-South line. Ghost nets from the Maldives have been found to have the same measurements of nets used in India, it says.
In the Maldives, nets are totally banned and fishing is done by pole and line –a traditional, eco-friendly fishing method. These floating ghost nets trap other nets, plastic and organic debris, as well as a range of fish, turtles, seabirds and marine mammals. Between July 2013-July 2014, at least 107 nets were found (in the Indian Ocean) and 74 analysed (in the Maldives, India and Sri Lanka). It is likely that many more floated by unseen, the report said.
The nets will often be taken by oceanic currents and travel huge distances. This means that their detrimental effects can be prevalent far from their original point of entry into the water. They will entangle many threatened animals along the way, says the report.

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