National Academies Press: OpenBook
Suggested Citation:"GHOST FISHING." National Research Council. 1995. Clean Ships, Clean Ports, Clean Oceans: Controlling Garbage and Plastic Wastes at Sea. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4769.
Page 338

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APPENDIX F 338 Coe (1990) also point out that, at least in the case of some species of cetaceans, debris that sinks continues to pose a threat to wildlife; the sperm whale, Baird's beaked whale, and the grey whale, all species of odontocete cetaceans that spend some time feeding on the bottom, are known to ingest non-buoyant debris. The value of using existing procedures to compile and maintain a database on wildlife interactions with debris is demonstrated by a recent report on plastic ingestion by the West Indian manatee, an endangered species. In the southeastern United States, dead manatees routinely are salvaged to determine cause of death and collect biological information. In Florida, personnel from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the University of Miami have performed systematic necropsies on dead manatees. Using this information, Beck and Barros (1991) found that of 439 manatees necropsied between 1978 and 1986, 63 (14.4 percent) had ingested debris. Pieces of monofilament fishing line were the most common debris items ingested (49 manatees). Other items included string, twine, rope, fish hooks or wire, paper, cellophane, synthetic sponges, rubber bands, plastic bags, and stockings. Finally, Hoss and Settle (1990) compiled a list based on existing literature and their own work of at least 20 fish species reported to ingest plastics. This list included reports of larva, juvenile, and adults from benthic to pelagic habitats. Adults had ingested a wide variety of items, including rope, plastic pellets, packaging, sheeting, cups, cigar holders, a bottle, and colored fragments. Bart (1990) reported plastics in 12 percent of the yellow fin tuna and 3 percent of the blue fin tuna caught off the coast of Virginia. Higher percentages of plastics found in these and other pelagic species have been attributed to more frequent association of these fish with areas where debris concentrates, such as in drift lines. GHOST FISHING A major problem that ultimately could affect marine ecosystems, as well as create a major economic concern, is ghost fishing—the capability of lost or discarded fishing gear to continue to catch finfish and shellfish species indefinitely. Unfortunately, this is a difficult problem to study and there are few quantitative data on the subject. Because individuals fishing in the United States are not required to report lost fishing gear, there is no way to determine and monitor the total amount of lost fishing gear and its potential impacts on U.S. fishery resources. However, the potential for impact on fishery resources and economics can be demonstrated for one segment of the fishing industry—the inshore lobster fishery of Maine. For this fishery, it has been estimated that 25 percent of all traps are lost each year, and that each lost trap can continue to catch up to 1.2 kilograms (2.5 pounds [lbs.]) of lobster (Smolowitz, 1978). While this may not seem significant, the cumulative effect could be; of the 1,787,795 lobster pots used in Maine's inshore fishery in 1987, nearly 450,000 traps were lost. Accordingly, those lost

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Marine debris is a serious environmental problem. To do its part, the United States has agreed to abide by the international treaty for garbage control at sea, known as MARPOL 73/78 Annex V.

Clean Ships, Clean Ports, Clean Oceans explores the challenge of translating Annex V into workable laws and regulations for all kinds of ships and boats, from cruise ships to fishing crafts and recreational boats. The volume examines how existing resources can be leveraged into a comprehensive strategy for compliance, including integrated waste management systems and effective enforcement.

Clean Ships, Clean Ports, Clean Oceans describes both progress toward and obstacles to Annex V compliance. The book covers:

  • How shipborne garbage orignates and what happens to garbage discharged into the seas.
  • Effects of discharge on human health, wildlife safety, and aesthetics.
  • Differences in perspective among military, industrial, and recreational seafarers and shoreside facilities.

Clean Ships, Clean Ports, Clean Oceans will be important to marine policymakers, port administrators, ship operations officers, maritime engineers, and marine ecologists.

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