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| Last Updated:12/09/2020

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Traditional fishing gear endangers marine biodiversity





Traditional fishing gears, commonly used in tropical seas, lead to overfishing and damage marine ecosystems, according to a study. Also called as artisanal fish fences, these are constructed using wooden poles and nets, harvested in local mangroves. They funnel fishes into a holding structure as the water recedes at low tide.



The study, published in Nature Communications, showed that although the impacts of these fences were assumed to be sustainable and lower than industrialised techniques, they have a much higher impact than thought previously. It also found that these fisheries are wreaking havoc on seagrass, meadows, mangroves as well as coral reefs.



“Because they are unselective, they catch more than 500 species, many as babies or which are of conservation concern,” Richard Unsworth from Swansea University, said in a statement. In a 10-year period these fisheries reduced the local reef fish density by half, he added.



“We find fish fences to disrupt vital ecological connectivity, exploit more than 500 species with high juvenile removal, and directly damage seagrass ecosystems with cascading impacts on connected coral reefs and mangroves,” wrote the researchers. 



In the study the team used ecological, social and remote sensing methods the landings from fish fences in Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans for more 15-years. The researchers suggest a need to identify solutions to support traditional practice as well as promote sustainable fisheries while also provide equitable benefits for people.



“Fisheries management is not just about how many fish are being caught, it’s about how those fish are being removed, and understanding the far-reaching impacts of a single fishing technique," Dan Exton from Operation Wallacea, a conservation research organisation, stated in the university' release.




"Governments, National Government Organisations and communities need to direct management efforts toward fishing techniques that are having the most harmful impacts. This could help with sustainability, and even increase short-term resilience to climate change,” he added.