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Bycatch: a sea turtle caught in a net as bycatch


Bycatch is other stuff you caught when trying to catch something else. Bycatch makes me sad. Any fish or sea creatures can be caught unintentionally during fishing, and it also affects larger animals such as sharks, turtles and of course dolphins. When learning from a whale shark expert on the island of Utila in Honduras he told us one of the simplest ways to help is to give up eating prawns. As London’s Maritime Museum puts it:

“For every kilo of tropical prawns you buy, 15 kilos of unwanted sea-life may be thrown back dead as ‘by-catch’. Trawling for prawns can also trap turtles, unless a special device keeps them out of the nets. Farming prawns is often no better, since mangrove swamps may be destroyed to make room for prawn ponds.”

Prawns are particularly bad as they are often caught with bottom trawling. I once read a description of it as wanting to catch a cow, and choosing to drag a net by helicopter over the entire farm, and so also catch the tree in the garden, the dog, the pigs and the farmer’s wife in the process.

So we gave up prawns. Sadly.

Check out the WWF bycatch page for more including a bottom trawler in action.

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