Posted on 25 November 2020
Effective monitoring of fishing activities critical to curb deaths of millions of marine species
A new report by WWF and Sky Ocean Rescue shows that at least 720,000 seabirds, 300,000 cetaceans, 345,000 seals and sealions, over 250,000 turtles and tens of millions of sharks perish around the world each year as ‘bycatch’ - the unintentional capture of marine wildlife by commercial fisheries. Many of these species are endangered or on the brink of extinction.
In Europe, one of the most prolific species being lost due to entanglement in fishing gear is the Baltic Proper harbour porpoise, whose population has plummeted to around 500 and is now listed as critically endangered under both IUCN and HELCOM.
WWF is calling for the use of Remote Electronic Monitoring with cameras (REM) to be mandated within the EU fishing fleet to improve monitoring of what is being caught and accountability across fisheries. REM serves to not only improve documentation of instances of bycatch, but to provide better fisheries data to improve EU fisheries’ management and stock assessments. Crucially, REM will also allow for better control with the compliance of the rules of the CFP.
WWF’s recent Living Planet Report 2020
showed that nature is in freefall with a 68% decline in species population sizes since 1970, and unsustainable fishing is impacting heavily on marine biodiversity. Fishing is the biggest threat to marine wildlife, due to the use of non-selective fishing gear which capture far more than the targeted species.
Conservation of our most vulnerable cetacean, shark and turtle populations is only possible if effective ways to prevent and reduce bycatch are developed. Currently, there is no accurate measurement of the true nature of the problem, as there is very little independent monitoring of most fishing activities at sea.