Each time a fisherman casts a net, unwanted fish and marine life, known as by-catch, gets caught up in the process. Most of the animals are tossed out, although oftentimes they are already dying, if not dead. A recent report from Oceana finally puts a value on the problem, and the amount of waste is staggering – according to the report, fishermen waste $1 billion in by-catch every single year.
It’s estimated that fisherman discard a shocking 20 percent of their catch ever year, and this is actually an improvement over past years. Oceana reached the value of waste by taking the pounds of by-catch and multiplying it by its estimated value to come up with $1 billion of sea life wasted. Some of the worst offenders include the southeastern shrimp trawling industry, which accounts for $100 million wasted, and Alaskan fisheries, which waste over $60 million in halibut, tuna and other fish caught up in the fishing industry there.
To help control the waste, which hurts both the economy and the ocean environment, Oceana recommends a three-step approach: First, demand that the fishing industry count everything that is caught, including by-catch, so that they are held accountable. Second, establish by-catch limits which fishing operations must stay below. Finally, managers could provide incentives to encourage reducing by-catch.