IPNLF to launch ghost net retrieval project

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Thursday, 19 March 2020 10:37

In partnership with the Olive Ridley Project,

this project is aimed at incentivising Maldivian fishers to collect ghost nets they encounter during their fishing operations. At the moment, the project is ready to be piloted by the local one-by-one tuna catching sector working off Gemanafushi Island, in the southern region of the Maldives. Perhaps most crucially the Island Council also agreed to provide their full support in helping to arrange the transportation of nets landed on the island and to identify an appropriate storage facility for collected ghost nets.

A staggering 640,000 tonnes of fishing gear is estimated to be lost or abandoned in the world’s seas annually. Much of this so-called “ghost gear” is made of synthetic materials, and once lost is left floating or suspended in ocean currents over the course of many years.

With encountered nets often weighing upwards of 80kg, the fishers in the programme will be reclaiming fishing gear that is potentially more than 4000 times the weight of the fishing lines being used in the Maldives. Taking into consideration the loss rates and the weight of gear used by pole-and-line vessels in the Maldives, it would take approximately 1000 fishing trips for enough fishing lines to be lost to equate to the weight of just one of the larger ghost nets typically encountered by fishers.

Through retrieving these abandoned fishing nets, the Maldives one-by-one fishery aims to become the world's first fishery to evidence that it removes more ghost gear by weight from the ocean than is lost through its own fishing operations.

Through successful at-sea net collection efforts, the ghost fishing cycle of nets will be drastically curtailed in comparison to collecting beached nets, thus increasing the likelihood of survival of entangled Olive Ridley turtles and other affected animals that are listed as Endangered, Threatened, and Protected.

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