Personal tools
 
Views

Debate: Driftnet ban

From Debatepedia

Jump to: navigation, search
[Digg]
[reddit]
[Delicious]
[Facebook]

Should there be a worldwide ban on the use of driftnets to catch fish?

Background and context

Driftnets are a special type of fishing nets that are held on or just below the surface of the water, with the help of floating-devices. Their height varies according to the fish species they target but is generally somewhere between 20 to 30 meters. They are weighted at the bottom so the net “stands” vertically in the sea.
They usually target what marine biologists refer to as “pelagic” species – those swimming close to the surface of the water, such as sardines, herring, albacore, swordfish and salmon.

Large driftnets are in use worldwide, even though the United Nations passed a resolution in 1992 banning their use in international waters (those more than 200 nautical miles from any coast). The UN also requested a worldwide halt to the use of driftnets outside of international waters, so that they would not be used within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ, up to 200 nautical miles off the coast) each country maintains under international law, but this had little to no effect. For example, the USA still allows indiscriminate use of driftnets in its Exclusive Economic Zone. The EU has regulated driftnets to a maximum length of 2.5 kilometers, and controls their use with regard to specific species and regions (for example, in the Baltic region there’s a ban for tuna, but not for salmon, whereas in Italy fishing for tuna still takes place). These EU “regulations” are the starting point for a process which was supposed to gradually lead to a total ban on their use at the end of 2007.[1]

Contents

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]

By-catch: Is a ban important as a means to reduce "by-catch"?

[Add New]

Yes

  • Drifnet "by-catch" has a disastrous impact on ocean life. Driftnets indiscriminately ensnare sea creatures in their area. This has a disastrous impact on the oceans. Banning driftnets would hugely reduce “by-catch”. By-catch refers to all those species that are ensnared by these nets other than their intended prey. Examples include dolphins and porpoises: they get caught in the net, die and then thrown away as a type of “collateral damage”. This drives species to extinction and this hurts biodiversity: the Moroccan driftnet-fleet of 177 boats alone is said to be responsible for 3000–4000 deaths of a certain threatened dolphin species.[2]


[Add New]

No

  • By-catch doesn’t need to be a reason to ban driftnets. In fact, when used well, drift-nets can have a minimum of by-catch, and certainly no more than other fishing methods. By catch can be limited by restricting the size of the mesh in the net, so that dolphins “recognize” the net as a “wall” of sorts and so avoid it, or by attaching sound-devices which emit “pings” (hence called “pingers”) to warn dolphins. Limiting the overall length of driftnets, as the EU has done, can also minimize by-catch. This all points to regulating rather then banning driftnets altogether.[3]


[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Species extinction: Do driftnets cause extinctions of targeted species?

[Add New]

Yes

  • Driftnets can push a targeted species to extinction Driftnets are so effective that their use actually pushes these species to the brink of extinction. Already, bluefin tuna-catches in the Mediterranean have dropped by over 80%, and many experts fear its extinction in the coming decade.[4]


[Add New]

No

  • The reports of extinction through over-fishing are inconclusive and based on anecdotal evidence. Even if catches have dropped so much, it can have different causes: for example, tuna are a highly mobile species, and maybe they have fled to the high seas where there is a ban on driftnets already. Or maybe it is the massive pollution caused by the Mediterranean’s sea-traffic.[5]


[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Local use: Is local driftnet use irrelevant?

[Add New]

Yes

  • Large-scale commercial driftnets are the concern, not local driftnet use. Commercial driftnets were first employed in the 1980s by Japan, Korea and Taiwan. These use driftnets to basically “strip mine” the seas with nets sometimes up to 40 miles wide, draining them of all fish before even the local fishermen can get to it. Poor local fishermen also have an interest in banning driftnets: they would prefer a healthy fish stock to feed future generations, rather than exhausting and driving into extinction their livelihood within a few years. Besides, in Bangladesh, driftnets account for about 30% of all fish caught, meaning that there are enough alternatives.[6]


[Add New]

No

  • Driftnet fishing is a form of subsistence living for many. All talk about biodiversity and poor dolphins and fish is nice, but should be considered against the fact that for many people, driftnet fishing is their only means of subsistence. Banning driftnets would spell starvation for them. That’s why, for example, in the 1980s the UN Food and Agriculture Organization actually recommended and helped with the use of driftnets in Bangladesh. The use of driftnets there increased the number of fish caught by about 45%, at a 40% lower cost, providing a vital means of subsistence to the locals.[7]


[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section up]

EEZs: Should a ban extend into Exclusive Economic Areas?

[Add New]

Yes

  • An effective driftnet ban must go beyond international waters into countries' Exclusive Economic Zones. A country’s Exclusive Economic Zone stretches 200 nautical miles from the coastline. In fact, because of the gradual sloping-away of the sea-bottom from the coast, this zone of 200 miles forms a unique habitat for about 90% of known fish species, meaning that “the high seas” provide no escape. Besides: who is going to check and patrol to see if all those “domestic” industrial fishers really keep within the EEZ? The UN has no police force to enforce its rules. Interestingly enough, Japan, for example, banned the use of driftnets inside its territorial waters (up to a maximum of 12 miles out of the coast), but their commercial fleet regularly shows up everywhere in the North Pacific. This is exactly why, when instituting the ban on international waters, the UN made a strong appeal to its member states to also ban it in their EEZ and territorial waters.[8]


[Add New]

No

  • There is a ban on the use of driftnets in international waters already. This should be enough: it provides fish with enough “breeding space” to recover from overfishing. If some countries then decide to overfish and thereby exhaust certain species of fish within their own Exclusive Economic Zone, then that is their sovereign right to do so. Apparently their government and population thought catching these fish was more important then biodiversity, and the international community has no business intervening in these domestic issues. As long as the high seas are “safe”, there is no problem.[9]


See also

External links

Problem with the site? 

Tweet a bug on bugtwits
.