Fishing feeds billions of people and is vital to the economies of countless coastal communities. But unsustainable practices litter the ocean with deadly traps that needlessly kill marine mammals, turtles, and seabirds.
Abandoned, lost, or discarded fishing gear, commonly referred to as ghost gear, contribute significantly to the problem of plastic pollution in our ocean. These gillnets, traps, and other types of fishing gear are particularly harmful because they can continue to catch target and non-target species indiscriminately for years. This impacts important food resources as well as endangered species. Because of this, ghost gear has been coined as the most deadly form of marine plastic debris, damaging vital ocean habitats, aquatic life, and livelihoods.
The ocean provides a bounty of seafood, supporting hundreds of millions of jobs and feeding billions of people. But roughly a quarter of the fish caught globally is done illegally in the shadows, fueling a black market that exploits wildlife, people, and gaps in enforcement of laws. A lack of transparency allows rogue vessels and criminal networks to operate undetected and profit off stolen fish, taking money out of the pockets of people who follow the rules and contributing to declines in ocean health. Ending this black-market trade of seafood is good for nature and people but will require an array of proven tools working in tandem, chief among them is traceability.
Addressing the issue of overfishing in international waters requires a complete understanding of who is fishing, what they’re fishing, and where they’re catching it. Electronic monitoring is a cost-effective way to improve the transparency of fishing activities.
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