No more animal deaths from discarded fishing nets — Maharashtra Coast

No more animal deaths from discarded fishing nets — Maharashtra Coast

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Ghost nets, which is the technical term for discarded fishing gear, are silent killers of the sea, they entangle and trap marine animals and affect the livelihood of those who depend on this industry.

Why is it a problem? 

Ghost nets are commercial fishing nets that are lost, abandoned, or discarded at sea. These nets generally made of nylon or similar material that is supposed to make them last for decades continue to harm marine animals like crabs, turtles, dolphins, whales, birds and underwater ecosystems even when they break apart and become ghost nets.

Entangled fishes lure larger predators which also get caught in these nets making this cycle never-ending. 

Why should we care?

The state of Maharashtra has a rich diversity of marine life that is being killed because of these broken nets and traditional fishing communities like the Kolis are losing a huge amount of money that takes a long time for them to recover.

Ghost nets add to marine debris in the ocean and enter our bodies through the food chain in one form or the other even if we do not consume seafood regularly.  

The government of India has indicated its willingness to focus on sustainable and eco-friendly fishing methods which will help usher in a ‘Blue Revolution’ according to the latest National Fisheries Policy, 2020 and the PM Matsya Sampada Yojana, This Blue Revolution needs to also address growing environmental problems which will harm fishing communities in the long run. 

 

The Proposed Immediate Solutions for Maharashtra 

After a prolonged dialogue and interaction with the Kolis and other fishing communities, divers, marine biologists and conservationists on the possible solutions to this issue affecting all of us, we propose the following : 

Implementation can begin from the coastal regions of Maharashtra and possibly expand to the rest of India to tackle this grave and urgent problem.

The State Government of Maharashtra should pass an appropriate order to regulate the storage, disposal and useful lifetime of nets, to prevent them from being discarded or lost at sea and becoming ghost nets. The power is specifically vested in the State Government by Section 4 of the Maharashtra Marine Fishing Regulation Act, 1981.  

 

1. Better Storage Facilities for Nets

Nets are being stored in the open and are subjected to direct sun, and harsh weather. This speeds up the wear and tear of the net and reduces their life span drastically making them brittle, putting them at greater risk of breaking off and becoming ghost net easily.  

We propose that shelters and storage facilities are specifically created or existing spaces are repurposed around landing sites and fishing beaches which can be used by the community to store and repair their nets. 

We also propose recording and monitoring the lifetime of the nets by the fishing community to keep a check on the age of nets. Old nets should be safely discarded once their useful lifetime is over. This could have the side benefit of preventing people from using illegal nets since monitoring would catch those.

2. Change of material and a market for removed ghost nets

If a public market of companies, NGOs, artists, recycling units etc. for old nets and ghost nets recovered at sea is created, it will generate an incentive for fishermen to bring the discarded nets back to the shore for some financial benefits while reducing the nuisance caused by these nets if left in the ocean. The nets can then be safely recycled or disposed of by the appropriate authority. 

We also propose that research related to the material of the nets is supported and funded by the state to make them safer for the marine environment with the goal to eradicate this problem from the root of it.

3. Direct state funds to support trained dive professionals to go underwater and bring the discarded nets in larger groups and more efficiently without risking reduced underwater time or their personal safety.

4. Designate ‘GHOST NET DAY’ on 4th February, (same date as the formation of the Indian Fisheries act) across the State which can be celebrated with clean up drives on the beach and underwater clean-ups across all coasts. 

5. Sensitization programs for the fishing community to promote sustainability in fishing and ocean wildlife. 

In this sensitization, we can involve bodies that oversee the welfare of Indian fisheries and fisherfolk, such as Fishery Survey of India Mumbai, Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training (CIFNET), Kerala, Central Institute of Coastal Engineering For Fishery (CICEF), Bangalore, National Institute of Fisheries Post Harvest Technology and Training, (NIFPHATT), Kochi, National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB), Hyderabad, Coastal Aquaculture Authority, Chennai. 

These programmes should be designed to increase their accessibility to what happens underwater in the sea and how to deal with nets being discarded or coming across ghost nets. 

Ghost Nets need our immediate attention!

Shockingly, there are not many laws, reports, statistics or documents specific to ghost nets in India. Fishing nets continue to kill lakhs of marine animals every single day and also pose a threat to individuals who are connected to and dependent on the seas. 

Sign this petition, to request your representatives to implement these suggestions across the coast of Maharashtra to create a safer ecosystem for our precious marine life and better livelihood opportunities for the fishing communities. 

You can find out more about Ghost Nets and updates about the first film on ghost nets in India on www.tangledseas.com

Share your support for ghost net awareness on social media. 

Use the hashtag #CareforFishingGear 

 

MORE WAYS TO TAKE ACTION

You've signed this petition! What else can you do? 


RESIDENTS OF MAHARASHTRA :

We need an action plan to make ghost nets a priority. Write to your local candidate or BMC (or your local municipality) and urge them to act on our suggestions or start a dialogue with our experts.

Tweet to @myBMC @CMOMaharashtra @OfficeofUT and Environment and Climate Change Minister @adityathackeray

Modify this or use your own —

"It's shocking that we have no laws or proper implementation regarding ghost nets in Maharashtra despite about 720 km of coastline. We demand proper #CareforFishingGear"

Write an email to <cm@maharashtra.gov.in> and  <comm_fisheries@maharashtra.gov.in> in English, Hindi or Marathi using content from this petition or your own research and demand proper #CareforFishingGear to save our seas from the ghost net menace. 

Share your email screenshots or tweets with us by tagging @tangled.seas on Instagram or using #CareforFishingGear

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Photo Credits (left to right, clockwise)

Umeed Mistry, Tangled Seas, Donarun Das, Donarun Das, Temple Adventures

0 have signed. Let’s get to 2,500!
At 2,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!