Mon, 15 Jul, 2019

WWF's new project aims to study ghost fishing gear in Goan waters

Story: ALIYA | ABREU | 14th December 2018, 03:59 Hrs

PROJECT TENURE
>> Three years (started in Nov)
PROJECT SITES
>> Goa and Andhra Pradesh
PROJECT AIMS
>> Retrieve ghost from water
---------------------------------------------------------------
WHAT'S GHOST GEAR
>> Ghost gear is abandoned, lost, discarded fishing gear that ends up in the ocean
>> These nets continue to fish after they've been discarded, and continue catching marine life
>> Due to the material these nets are made of, they don't degrade in water even over time
----------------------------------------------------------

In the long run, fishers will have to aid in getting the ghost gear out of the ocean
- Ajay Venkatraman
------------------------------------------------------------

PANAJI: In a unique initiative in the country, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is undertaking a three year project in Goa and Andhra Pradesh, which started last month, which aims to identify underwater areas where "ghost" fishing gear has accumulated, and eventually, retrieve this gear from the water.
Ajay Venkatraman from the WWF Delhi team who in is Goa for a meet to discuss one of WWF's projects, told 'The Goan' that the project is a long term one with several phases, the first of which is accumulating data on ghost gear in Goa's waters, as there is not enough information on this at present.
Explaining what ghost gear is, Venkatraman said, "Ghost gear is abandoned, lost, discarded fishing gear that ends up in the ocean. These nets continue to fish after they've been discarded, and continue catching marine life like dolphins, whales, and other smaller commercially important fish that usually end up dying." Further, he explained that due to the material these nets are made of, very often nylon, they don't degrade in water even over time.
These fishing nets get lost in the ocean when they get snagged in rocks at the bottom of the ocean, or during storms and other extreme weather events or simply when they reach the end of their life cycles. This happens when there's no formal mechanism by which nets are discarded once they've been used.
"Ghost gear also gets snagged on coral reefs and continues to damage the habitat underwater," he said. This is why WWF's project aims at interacting with the fishing community in Goa, to better understand how the community interacts with ghost gear when it encounters this kind of gear while fishing.
The problem is not one scientists and researchers can tackle without the help of the fishing community, and in the long run, fishers will have to aid in getting the ghost gear out of the ocean. WWF will look at ways to reduce the amount of ghost fishing gear ending up at the bottom of the ocean, but this will be a long term goal, due to the enormity of the task. A lot of future plans to solve the problem will depend on the kind of data WWF gets in phase one, said Venkatraman.