Long Line Fishing Causing Rapid Decline in Marine Life
Long line fishing is a technique used in commercial fishing. It uses a long line that’s called the main line with baited hooks and the hooks are connected to branch lines called “snoods”. Hundreds and sometimes thousands of baited hooks can hang on one line. Bait can be squid, fish, and people are now finding fresh dolphin meat. The lines can be set with anchors or left drifting with the current for 12 to 24 hours. Larger companies use connected lines that can stretch for up to 62 miles. Long lining is actually not very destructive and isn’t as harmful to bottom habitats compared to other fishing techniques, like bottom trawling [towing a net at the very bottom of the ocean]. It also has low fuel consumption. Long lining rakes in millions of dollars a year, and some countries depend upon it.
Right about now you’re probably asking yourself “if it’s good for the environment and saves fuel why is it an issue” right? Well do you know that the birds can see the baited hooks from the air, and on one line 36 birds were found drowned after trying to eat the bait? Or endangered species like sea turtles are drowned by the hundreds also? 20,000 loggerhead turtles are captured every year by the Spanish long line fishery, and even more die when they are thrown back into the ocean with hooks in their throats. It’s due to fishing practices like long lining that turtles are endangered anyway. Long lining doesn’t sound so hot anymore does it? So what, it just hurts the birds and the turtles right?
No, in fact you couldn’t get anymore wrong then that. The prime targets for long liners are tuna, mahi mahi [dolphin fish], swordfish, and billfish, but things like sperm whales, pilot whales, oceanic dolphins, and all types of shark but most often the blue shark have been found. 1,000 other species of marine animals have been found hooked, drowned, or entangled in long lines. One of the worst things about the long lines is that they are most often used to catch the sharks for shark finning. Shark finning is an 800 billion dollar a year industry. Shark finning has helped the shark population decline by 97%. When people are done with the finned sharks they throw them over board to die slowly. They either drown because they have to move to pull oxygen from the water, get eaten by other fish, or starve to death. What’s most concerning is that people don’t seem to realize the impact long lining is going to have, and is already having on our ecosystem.
The over fishing of sharks and dolphins is really upsetting the food chain, which then affects then fish and other marine life we eat. So, now you know what long lining is, and why it’s wrong. Now it’s up to us to find a way and stop it. In many countries long lining is now illegal, but usually nobody enforces the law, because long line fishing is usually done in deep waters. However long line fishing is not yet illegal in international waters and is a major problem. It’s up to us guys, we are the oceans last hope. Don’t screw it up!