Abandoned fishing nets removed in five years
İZMİR – Demirören News Agency
Turkey’s Agriculture and Forestry Ministry has carried out ghost net cleanups in seas in the last five years, removing 450,000 square meters of abandoned fishing nets claiming the lives of many marine creatures.
Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said that the cleaning was carried out in 600 points across Turkish seas covering an area of 65,000 decares.
“And we collected 4,500 fishing baskets and similar hunting gears from the seas. Let me explain this way: 100 square meters of fishing nets lead to the destruction of about 300 sea beings and organisms. So, with the works that we have undertaken so far, we have protected about 1.5 million sea creatures,” Pakdemirli said.
“This is also the case in the world. A total of 650,000 fishing nets were cast last year in the world and some of these were left in the seas,” he said.
Speaking to reporters on July 14, Pakdemirli then scuba-dived off the Çeşme district in the Aegean province of İzmir to raise awareness for the pollution in seas.
Pakdemirli, together with a group of divers, removed abandoned fishing nets off the Eşek Island (Donkey Island), an island north of Çeşme.
“We are here today within the context of the ‘Cleaning of the Seas from the Fishing Gear’ project [launched in 2014]. This project is a project of our General Directorate of Fisheries and Aquaculture. It is now being conducted completely with the means of our government and ministry. But hopefully, in the upcoming days, it [the project] will include NGOs,” he said.
“Just with every resource, we need to use our seas in a very efficient way. We should not see the bottom of the sea as mere water. There is an ecosystem, plant cover in the bottom. We need to put in every kind of effort to protect these,” Pakdemirli said.
“We have only one world in our hands but everyone on the planet is using as if there are seven of them. And in an attempt to contribute to this [awareness], we have launched a campaign regarding the cleaning of hunting gear, especially fishing nets and fishing baskets,” the minister said.
Pakdemirli said that the government was turning the abandoned fishing nets found by the divers into market shopping bags within the context of a social responsibility project.
Abandoned fishing nets create a huge problem called “ghost fishing.” These nets can travel long distances from their points of origin and can remain in the seas long after they are discarded, resulting in the entrapment and death of marine mammals, sea birds and fish.
To tackle this growing problem, the Turkish Agriculture and Forestry Ministry launched a project in 2014. The research concluded that thousands of meters of nets were left in seas, leading to a nationwide cleanup work.