Between August and September 2020, the Norwegian Fisheries Directorate cleaned the seabed between the southern Norwegian town of Ålesund and Spitsbergen of more than 100 tonnes of lost and abandoned fishing equipment. Losing fishing equipment is not prohibited, but not reporting the loss is a criminal offence in Norway.
A total of 2669 lost fishing baskets were recovered. The Norwegian Fisheries Directorate has also removed almost 700 nets of various types, equivalent to 20 kilometres. In addition, 172,450 metres of ropes were recovered, including 6,800 metres of spinning ropes and 39,000 metres of lines. In addition, hundreds of buoyancy bodies and anchors were registered. More than 11,000 kilograms of fish were caught in the recovered nets and more than 15,000 crabs.
Lost fishing gears also pose an increased risk to new gears, as they can become entangled and also need to be abandoned.
Clean-up also in Greenland
The many ghost nets have caused serious problems with fishing in recent years. Because of the need, last year the IAPP applied for funding from the Environment Fund, which is managed by the Ministry of Nature and environment, for the recovery of lost equipment. However, the request was rejected. Nevertheless, the clean-up could be carried out this year. According to Royal Greenland A/S, several local companies and stakeholders in the fishing industry have contributed funds to the project. The association itself contributed DKK 60,000 (8,000 euros). The total cost of just over 200,000 kronor (26,900 euros) was used to rent local vessels responsible for recovering the many lost nets, longlines, ropes and other fishing equipment.
The research vessel “Sanna” of the Greenlandic Natural Institute Sanna recovered a large number of ghost nets in August and September in the waters around Ilulissat and Torsukattak in a comprehensive search. According to the IAPP fishermen’s association in Ilulissat, this has already had a positive impact on halibut fishing.
Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal
This is great news!! Does anyone know how exactly this is done? For example how do they locate these nets and how are they lifted out? Hopefully not dragged along the fragile sea bed? Just curious about the whole procedure!
Hi Vicky, thank you for your inquiry. There are various ways to do this. In fact, in Norway the loss or the observation of material needs to be reported. This means the approximate location of nets drifting are known and thus they can be hauled onto a ship. Those nets in depths are hauled onto the ships with cranes. Sometimes they have to drag them for a bit, but usually they try to avoid this. In other case, transects along the fishing areas are conducted and material is collected along those transsects. Of course, you neve catch all of it. But any net and line caught is one less danger for marine organisms.