Driftnet Fishing

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From the beginning of human existence to present day, humans have required food for survival. Over the years, the methods of getting food have multiplied extensively, been facilitated, and have become more efficient. Fishing is a technique that has been used throughout the course of history and is still used today. There are several different ways to fish, such as individual fishing and commercial fishing. Many of the commercial fishing techniques are similar, using large nets or traps, targeting a certain type of marine life that is in high demand. Unfortunately, these forms of fishing can be dangerous to people and to the wildlife. Driftnet fishing is a technique of commercial fishing that started out prosperous and effective, however, it was soon found to be hazardous to the environment on a variety of levels.

Driftnet fishing is a technique that uses nets several hundred meters in length and width to catch any wildlife that swims into it. The nets are left in the water for a number of hours, usually overnight, and are pulled back the next day. The term driftnet fishing describes a scaled up fishing technique that uses nets to corral a school of fish. It has been an especially efficient form of fishing through the ages for many species of pelagic fish, small and large, that travel the oceans in large schools (Cooperative Efforts Dealing with Driftnet Fishing 2). The main purpose of driftnet fishing is to get as much of the target species as possible and sell it at top price. Driftnetters claim to target squid, but they tend to sell everything they get that is marketable (Clifton 1). Driftnet fishing provides large amounts of fish to countries all over the world. The task may seem simple, but is really a difficult business.

Driftnet fishing is not an easy process; it is an arduous task that requires patience and skill. The process of getting the nets in and out of the water takes several hours because of their large size. Depending on the length, it takes two to four hours to set the net, which is done in the late afternoon and early evening (History of Driftnet Fisheries in Operation 2). While the nets are left to drift, they tend to catch whatever swims into them. The size of the holes in the net are usually small enough so nothing gets out once it is caught. Retrieval takes between six and fourteen hours depending on the total length of the net and the amount of catch and by-catch (History of Driftnet Fisheries in Operation 2). The crew of the driftnet boat must work together to get the job done quickly so the catch does not begin to spoil.

In the past years, driftnet fishing has taken its toll on many types of targeted fish. Laws and bans have been put in place to preserve the population of fish and to keep driftnet fishers in line. The United Nations first touted driftnets in the 1950s as a cheap way for developing nations to exploit protein resources. The practice has since proven so destructive it has been banned from the coasts of nearly every nation (Hogshire 5). The United Nations called for a worldwide moratorium on South Pacific driftnetting by 1991 and a ban on all driftnetting by 1992 (Hogshire 5). Bans have also been placed to control the total size of the driftnets. In 1991, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for a ban on driftnets that exceed a cumulative length of 2.5 kilometers (History of Driftnet Fisheries in Operation 10). The size restriction for driftnets is not the only problem the anglers face, in some places driftnet fishing has been outlawed altogether. Japan, home to one of the largest driftnet fleets in the world, will not allow its own ships to use driftnets within one thousand miles of its shores (Hogshire 5). The primary criticisms were that driftnet fishing techniques were not compatible with sustainable fisheries management practices and they caused too much harm to unintended targets (Cooperative Efforts Dealing With Driftnet Fishing 2). Although there are laws...
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