Longline fishing is a popular method of commercial fishing that involves setting out long lines with hundreds or even thousands of baited hooks. This method of fishing is often used to catch large pelagic species such as tuna, swordfish, and sharks. However, the practice has come under scrutiny due to its negative impact on the environment.
One of the biggest problems with longline fishing is bycatch. Bycatch refers to the unintentional capture of non-target species. Longline fishing is notorious for catching large quantities of bycatch, including sea turtles, dolphins, seabirds, and even endangered species. These animals are often killed or injured as a result of being caught on the hooks, which can have serious consequences for their populations.
Another problem with longline fishing is that it can damage the seafloor and other marine habitats. The long lines used in this method of fishing can be several kilometers long, and the heavy weights used to keep them in place can damage the seafloor, destroying fragile ecosystems such as coral reefs and seagrass beds. This can have a ripple effect throughout the entire marine ecosystem, disrupting the food chain and putting other species at risk.
Finally, longline fishing can contribute to overfishing and the depletion of fish populations. The sheer number of hooks used in this method of fishing can result in large catches, which can quickly deplete fish populations. This can be particularly problematic for species that are already at risk of overfishing, such as bluefin tuna.
Longline fishing is a problematic method of commercial fishing that has a number of negative environmental impacts. From the bycatch of non-target species to damage to marine habitats and overfishing, there are a number of reasons why this practice needs to be re-examined. As consumers, we can help by choosing sustainably caught fish and encouraging our governments to take action to protect our oceans.