New ‘ropeless’ fishing gear could have a massive impact on our oceans: ‘[This] isn’t going away without changing’
A new type of “ropeless” fishing gear may save whales off California’s coasts.
NPR recently reported on what is known as “pop-up” fishing gear, which many fishermen say could be a solution to the fishing industry’s harmful effect on whales.
This year, California state regulators closed the Dungeness crab-capturing season two months earlier than normal because of its effect on humpback whales.
Fishermen on the East and West Coasts of the U.S. are experiencing a reduction in their fishing seasons due to worries about whales becoming entangled in the lengthy ropes connected to their equipment.
These incidents frequently result in harm or death to the marine creatures, according to NPR.
Typically, crab and lobster traps rest on the ocean floor and are connected to the surface using a rope that can extend for hundreds of feet. However, this ropeless gear involves storing the rope and buoy on the ocean floor until the fishermen retrieve it.
As NPR described it, fishers can find their traps using an app and then hit a button, “sending an acoustic signal to release the rope and buoy, which rise to the surface.”
This spring, 12 lobstermen were granted permission to utilize pop-up gear to fish in restricted regions off Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
“This problem isn’t going away without changing the way we do stuff,” Brand Little, a California fisherman, told NPR.
Each year, industrial fishing kills hundreds of thousands of whales, sea turtles, and dolphins, which is known as “bycatch.”
Commercial fisheries, particularly those using Gulf of Mexico shrimp trawls, are regularly granted authorization by federal fisheries managers to cause the death of tens of thousands of sea turtles.
Ropeless fishing may be a positive step in the right direction when it comes to protecting whales, but it doesn’t address the problem of how fishing is depleting the world’s oceans of another aquatic animal, fish.
Today, approximately 75% of the world’s fisheries are exploited or depleted due to overfishing.
“Even well-managed fishing at maximum yields prevents the restoration of rich and abundant ecosystems,” political activist and environmentalist George Monbiot told the Guardian in 2021.
One very effective alternative to the fishing industry is the growth of plant-based fish alternatives, which are becoming increasingly popular in many parts of the world.
Another alternative is cell-based seafood, which is virtually unheard of right now, but may soon become the norm on supermarket shelves and has the potential to save our oceans and its animals.
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