Conference addresses bycatch problem


Neil Ray, SeafoodSource contributing editor, reporting from Bangkok

Published on
June 13, 2010

The inaugural Coral Triangle Fishers Forum opens on Tuesday, organized to address the problem of bycatch in the Coral Triangle. Organized by the World Wildlife Fund and Indonesia’s Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, the meeting is co-hosted by the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC).

The conference, which runs through Thursday in Bali, Indonesia, offers the fishing community and government officials an opportunity to discuss the issues surrounding bycatch, including finding ways to improve market-based partnerships that respond to the call for sustainable fisheries.

“Thousands of tons of ‘trash fish’ are caught in fishing nets and thrown back into the sea, either dead or dying. This kind of wasteful management can have potentially damaging implications not only on biodiversity but also food security and livelihood for millions of people if left unaddressed,” said Keith Symington, bycatch strategy leader of WWF’s Coral Triangle Program.

The threatened species indiscriminately caught and thrown back include marine turtles, shark, seabirds, billfish and sea mammals. In Indonesia, the WWF is encouraging the use of circle hooks to help reduce bycatch by as much as 80 percent when compared to tuna longlines.

“Seafood businesses can reduce their negative impact on the marine environment and move toward more responsible fishing by adopting better management practices through the use of bycatch-reducing technologies,” added Symington.

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