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New nets make shrimp trawling more sustainable in Latin America and Caribbean

03 / 06 / 2019, Mongabaycom News

Among the fisheries of Latin America and the Caribbean, shrimp has the highest export value after tuna. Trawling, the most popular and efficient way to harvest shrimp, has been a source of controversy due to its negative effect on marine biodiversity and the artisanal fishing sector. Traditional fishers say they lose catches to the trawlers’ large nets, which scoop up other forms of marine life along with the shrimp. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), shrimp trawlers’ nets can inadvertently catch up to 25 times more non-target species than shrimp. The fishers sell some of the non-target species, or bycatch, that they bring in. However, they return a larger amount to the ocean, almost always dead. Most of the discarded organisms are young fish with little to no market value due to their small sizes. Invertebrates like crustaceans and mollusks also get discarded, along with the occasional marine turtle, ray, or shark netted with the shrimp. Bycatch from trawlers poses a threat to sustainability, and also puts livelihoods and long-term food security at risk. To reduce this impact, Colombia, Brazil, Suriname, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Mexico have embarked on a project with the goal of introducing changes in the technology of trawling nets. The preliminary results are promising, showing up to 20 percent less bycatch and discards. ‘Smart’ nets   The FAO is conducting the project, known as The Sustainable Management of Bycatch in Latin America and Caribbean Trawl Fisheries (REYBAC LAC…

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