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Suggested Citation:"Commercial Fisheries." 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 41
Suggested Citation:"Commercial Fisheries." 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 42

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SOURCES, FATES, AND EFFECTS OF SHIPBORNE GARBAGE 41 Although many recreational boaters are concerned about the marine environment, there is visible evidence that Annex V compliance levels need to be improved. Even when marinas have reception facilities, garbage still may end up in the water or on the shore. Credit: Coastal Resources Center. operate within 3 nautical miles of shore, so they are supposed to store all garbage for disposal ashore. Actual disposal practices are difficult to ascertain; the discards are virtually indistinguishable from those of land-side sources, and boats may use innumerable docks and launch ramps that are exempt from requirements for port reception facilities. Nevertheless, there is some evidence that less garbage is thrown overboard today than was in the past. Mudar (1991) has documented a 91 percent Annex V compliance rate among Nantucket boaters using a public marina. Commercial Fisheries The United States supports a large and diverse fishing industry that makes a significant contribution to the national and regional economies.5 The fleets are unique to each catch, and a wide variety of gear is employed. Vessels range from small powered craft and row boats to those over 1,000 tons. In 1990, some 30,000 fishing vessels over S net tons were documented by the federal government and 5 In 1992, the United States ranked sixth in total world harvest behind China, Japan, Peru, Chile, and the former Soviet Union. U.S. fishermen landed 4.7 million metric tons (MT) (10.5 billion pounds [lbs.]) of fish valued at $3.5 billion, and the U.S. vessels transferred to foreign ports or vessels an additional 216,000 MT (476.8 million lbs.) valued at $195.4 million (National Marine Fisheries Service, 1994).

SOURCES, FATES, AND EFFECTS OF SHIPBORNE GARBAGE 42 TABLE 2-4 Estimated Number of Fishing Industry Vessels Active During 1987 (by Region Fished)a Region Documented Vessels State-Numbered Vessels North Atlantic New England 1,800 16,500 Mid-Atlantic 800 5,500 Chesapeake Bay 2,500 3,500+b South Atlantic 2,700 13,500 Gulf/Caribbean Gulf Coast 10,000 26,500c Caribbean d 1,500 Great Lakes e e West Coast 5,000 6,000 Alaska 8,000 9,000 Hawaii/Southwest Pacific 200 200 Total 31,000± 80,0005±f a Numbers are composite estimates from regional sources. Principal sources include records of fish landings maintained by National Marine Fisheries Service regional offices, permit data maintained by the Commercial Fishing Entry Commission in Juneau, Alaska, and regional assessments commissioned for this study, and economic analyses available for some fisheries. b Based on 1986 estimate of Chesapeake Bay oyster fishery (Sutinen, 1986). c Includes a large number of small boats engaged in shrimp fisheries in bays, sounds, and estuaries. d Negligible. e Current information is not available. f The number of commercial fishing vessels bearing state numbers is not known. West Coast and Alaska figures are close approximations. All other data presented are general estimates. Source: National Research Council, 1991. about 80,000 vessels were registered by the states (a breakdown by region is provided in Table 2-4). Trip length varies; most smaller craft take day trips, but the largest vessels, such as tuna seiners, may be at sea for two or three months at a time. In addition to vessels used by professionals who catch fish for sale as food, there are significant numbers of smaller craft known as charter or head boats, which carry recreational fishermen offshore. Most operate as day boats, rarely venturing beyond 12 miles from shore. A few operate up to 2,500 nautical miles from port for 15 to 20 days. Most use marinas or small docks (as opposed to fishing piers) to support operations. Garbage generally is stored on board and disposed of ashore. Fishing vessels generate significant amounts of garbage, as is evident from both Cantin's and the committee's estimates (they are nearly identical). Equally notable is the type of garbage, which can include fishing nets, monofilament

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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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