**- Net modifications will not significantly reduce by-catch, dropouts and
discards of damaged and unwanted species. Lowering the nets may reduce the
by-catch of a few transiting marine mammals and a few shallow diving birds,
but it reduces the catch of the targeted species.
- Before the fishing excesses of the 1980s, roughly a quarter of the
animal protein consumed by the people of this planet came from oceans, estuaries,
rivers and lakes. Now it is only a sixth and the amount is declining. It
is imperative that all fisheries harvest at sustainable levels and that
waste be minimized.
- It is likely that driftnet fisheries have decreased the total quantity
of protein harvested by taking more than the sustainable levels of many
- The waste of valuable marine protein has been enormous. Hundreds of
thousands of tons of fish dropped out of nets or were discarded. These discards
included target species that were putrefied, badly damaged or partly eaten
- Large-scale driftnetting is the most deadly fishing method ever developed.
More than 50,000 km of driftnet were set each night on the world's oceans.
Driftnets form huge curtains of net that ensnare everything larger than
their mesh size, which can be a small as 55 mm.
- The enormous harvest and by-catch taken by driftnetting also threatened
to deplete coastal fishery stocks.
- Japan, the Republic of Korea and Taiwan banned large-scale driftnetting
in their EEZ's to prevent damage to their coastal fisheries even as they
continued to driftnet on the high seas.
- More than 30 years of research substantiated the destructiveness of
- No management scheme to date has shown any promise in being able to
significantly reduce the enormous by-catch and waste associated with driftnetting.
- In order for the 1990 North Pacific Japanese squid driftnet fishery
to take 106 million neon flying squid, over 39 million other fishes, 700,000
blue sharks, 270,000 sea birds, 140,000 salmons, 26,000 marine mammals,
and 406 turtles were caught. Most were discarded.
- After drifting for eight hours, it takes six to fourteen hours to
retrieve the long nets. These extended soaking hours result in a large percentage
of dead and spoiled catch and by-catch. Estimates of spoiled target catch
and discarded by-catch varies between 17% and 55%.
- The three squid driftnet fisheries in the North Pacific killed between
875,000 and 1,660,000 seabirds annually. Many of the birds caught are protected
migratory species listed in the annexes of the Migratory Bird Conventions.
- In 1990 large-mesh driftnets in the North Pacific caught 20 times
more dolphins and 50 times more turtles than were taken in the squid fishery.
- Driftnets in the North Pacific catch at least three endangered turtle
species listed in Appendix I of the CITES convention: the loggerhead, leatherback
and green sea turtles.
- The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that between
315,000 and 1,000,000 dolphins were killed in the 1989 driftnet season.
This figure may be conservative since no estimates were included for the
North Pacific large-mesh fleets.
- Driftnets are also capable of taking endangered whales. In fact, a
fully functional driftnet fishery is probably the greatest threat to whales.
- According to crew members of the Taiwanese vessel Yu Chan Sar, 50
to 100 sperm whales, hundreds of sea lions and hundreds of dolphins were
killed in the Indian Ocean Whale Sanctuary in 1991. This particular vessel
was actively fishing only three months.
- Under international law, nations have the duty to protect and conserve
the high seas marine environment. High seas fishing resources are common
property resources. Customary and conventional international laws indicate
that the high seas and its resources are subject to res communis or the
"law of the commons".
- High seas driftnetting is wholesale exploitation of the economic resources
of the global commons and is akin to piracy under international law. This
pillage was a de facto appropriation of the bulk of these resources by only
a few fishing nations, a plundering of the global commons.
- Driftnet fishing should be subject to multinational jurisdiction and
sanctions. The driftnet nations exert little control and management over
this industry. Vessels are refueled and resupplied at sea. Catch is routinely
transhipped on the high seas beyond national jurisdictional bounds and off-loaded
in foreign ports.
- Article 10 of the 1982 UN convention on the Law of the Sea defines
piracy as "any act of depredation committed for private ends by the
crew ... of a private ship ... against property in a place outside the jurisdiction
of any State." The living resources of the oceans beyond the jurisdiction
of States are property held in common and in trust by mankind, for mankind.
The massive depredation of the living resources of the global ocean commons
must be considered an act of piracy.
- Net lowering also creates operational problems such as frequent tangling
of nets. It also may double the time needed to set and stack the nets, making
fishing less economical. Therefore it is not likely that fishermen will
actually employ this modification at sea.
- Short-term adjustments may need to be made by the fishing industries
that employ driftnet labor and utilize driftnet products to secure jobs
in the industry. However, any short term adjustments will be far outweighed
by the prospect of long term job security in all coastal states resulting
from sustainable fish stocks for present and future generations.
- Despite the 1989 UN driftnet resolution (44/225) prohibiting further
expansion of driftnet fishing it was reported that Taiwan expanded its operations
in the Atlantic Ocean and that France increased its fleet from 37 driftnet
vessels in 1989 to 78 vessels in 1991 in the Northeast Atlantic.
- Despite the 1991 UN moratorium there is evidence that Taiwan vessels
continue to driftnet in the Indian Ocean, and that their activities are
being supported, directly and indirectly by the PRC and Singapore.
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