Study aims to prevent leakages of fishery waste

Fishing waste

A team of researchers, led by Dr Falk Schneider from National Cheng Kung University (NCKU), Taiwan, have conducted a material flow analysis of several types of fishing gear, which aims to improve fishery management and prevent leakages of fishery waste.

In Taiwan, an average of 12.7 m3 of marine litter accumulates per kilometre along the coastline, 70% of which is caused by fishing gear, the Global Research Group Asia SDGs says.

However, despite Taiwan’s high level of marine litter pollution, the organisation says that data on commercial fishing gear losses, stocks and flows remains “dispersed and poorly understood.”

This is why the organisation says it’s “imperative” to quantify the end-of-life fishing gear stocks and flows and identify critical leakage points across the entire value chain in the fishery management system in Taiwan.

We hope that our research will assist Taiwanese policymakers in developing appropriate marine litter prevention policies.

Explaining the purpose of the research, Dr Schneider, said: “Through a material flow analysis of commercial fishing gears in Taiwan, our goal is to enhance fishery management and prevent unwanted spillages of fishery waste.

“We hope that our research will assist Taiwanese policymakers in developing appropriate marine litter prevention policies.”

Following on from two studies in Norway and South Korea, the research project is aiming to address how much fishing gear stock is in the system, how to stop fishing gear from turning into ocean waste and what policies are needed to effectively manage fishing gear.

The Global Research Group Asia SDGs says the first stage of the project involved establishing a stakeholder map and the general flow structure of commercial fishing gear. The life cycle of fishing gear was divided into five stages: use, repair, storage, spillage to the ocean and end-of-life.

Waste fishing gear
An infographic published alongside the research.

Following that, stakeholders from both government agencies and private companies were approached to gather quantitative data on current fishing gear stocks and flows, the Global Research Group Asia SDGs says.

Next, the organisation continues that the material flow analysis software STAN 2.7 was used to analyse the data and visualise the material flow model to identify pollution hotspots and spillage points.

The total input was estimated to be 8,846 tons/year, with the total output being 4,271 tons/year and around 2,722 tons of fishing equipment were estimated to be lost or dumped in the ocean annually after being used, the Global Research Group Asia SDGs says.

While 1,172 tons of fishing gear required maintenance, 1,062 tons were stored in the harbour and 3,529 tons reached the end-of-life stage, the report highlights, and waste fishing gear recycling, incineration and landfill amounted to 1,538 tons, 2,630 tons and 103 tons, respectively.

Following the research, Dr Schneider has recommended several steps to develop a more sustainable fishing industry. He said: “The Taiwanese government must collect data in a systematic manner to monitor and manage the fishing gear waste streams.

“Furthermore, a meeting should be convened between stakeholders from the fishery sector, government agencies and non-governmental organisations to facilitate knowledge sharing toward more sustainable fisheries.”

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