More Info

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Drift netting

Drift netting is a fishing technique where nets, called drift nets, are allowed to drift free in a sea or lake. Usually a drift net is a gill net with floats attached to a rope along the top of the net, and weights attached to another rope along the foot of the net.

Drift nets can range in length from 25m to 2.5 miles. Nets of up to 50km have been set in recent times. Because drift nets are not anchored to the sea bottom or connected to a boat, they are sometimes lost in storms and become ghost nets.


Controversy around the use of drift nets stems not from their impact on fished populations, which, due to the selectivity parameters of the nets, are well understood, but from their impact on non-target species, particularly dolphins and turtles.

Driftnets have been commonly used by many countries in coastal waters. However, Japanese drift net fishing began to draw public attention in the mid-1980s when Japan and other Asian countries began to send large fleets to the North Pacific Ocean to catch mainly tuna and squid. Japan operated about 900 drift net vessels earning around $300 million a year. Those fishing boats were blamed not only for the indiscriminate destruction of marine life, but also for the poaching of North Pacific salmon, harming the US and Canadian fishing industries, and threatening the jobs of fishermen who did not use such methods. The first Bush administration opposed a U.S. driftnet ban because it would allegedly conflict with a treaty with Japan and Canada regarding salmon fishing in the North Pacific.

The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution which bans drift net fishing in international waters effective December, 1992. The United States still permits drift gillnet fisheries within US waters, and as of March 2007, there are over 1300 vessels fishing with drift nets in European waters . The use of drift nets in EU waters is, however, carefully regulated. Drift nets exceeding 2.5km in length have been banned since the early 1990s. The use of drift nets of any length in fisheries targeting certain specific species, including tuna and swordfish, was banned in 1998. The prohibition on the use of drift nets will be extended to EU waters of the Baltic Sea from 1 January 2008.

No comments: