Marine life continues to feel the effects of man-made pollution as plastic, trash, and other materials get lost in the waves of a vast ocean. Just recently, a group of Italian divers rescued a whale tangled in ‘ghost’ fishing nets. Luckily, after being freed, the whale swam off harmless. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened and not all sea critters make it out unscathed. However, there is a lot we can learn about how to put an end to this cycle.
What is ‘ghost’ fishing?
When fishing nets get lost or abandoned at sea they undergo a cycle in the water. Large fishing nets sink to the ocean floor or land on top of shipwreck material. On its way down, marine life like whales, turtles, dolphins, etc., get caught in the netting. While the whale in this story was saved without experiencing any injuries, others are not so fortunate. When this happens, they’ll sink to the ocean floor where scavengers will also get stuck in the netting as they feed on carcasses.
As the weight is freed, the net makes its way back up to the ocean’s surface. The cycle continues to repeat itself. According to the UN Environment, “an estimated 600,00-8000,000 tons of discarded fishing gear ends up in our oceans each year.” This leads over hundreds of marine life to get caught in this vicious cycle that ultimately destroys lives while disrupting the food chain.
Solutions to the Cycle
While organizations present various fishing options like biodegradable fishing gear and incentives to return gear after use, this might only provide a temporary fix. Recycling and reusing is a great option for anything we do when it comes to consumption. However, harm done to life, in general, is something humanity is striving to improve. Considering a plant-based diet can impact the fishing industry in tremendous ways that may remove the need for fishing, nets, and other materials entirely.
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