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Illegal driftnet use widespread in Indian Ocean, Greenpeace says |16 April 2021

Greenpeace has uncovered widespread use of illegal driftnets in the northwest Indian Ocean, which it says are decimating marine life in what is one of the world’s most ecologically vulnerable fishing grounds.

During two weeks at sea, the environmental organisation says it filmed seven ships within 20 square miles (50 sq km) using driftnets to catch tuna. It detected another eight vessels on radar using navigational patterns that also suggested use of nets.

“If yellowfin tuna continues to decrease at the current rate then food security in the region, as well as local economies, is going to take a huge hit,” Greenpeace said.

Nicknamed the “walls of death” for the quantity of other sea life they catch in addition to the fish they are set for, the nets were banned by the United Nations 30 years ago.

Greenpeace shared footage with Reuters of sharks and manta rays that had been killed in the nets, set some 500 miles (800 km) east of Somalia.

“Because of the issues of bycatch we’re concerned about all fish in the Indian Ocean,” it said, adding that the same area had also seen a huge increase in unregulated squid fishing.

“What’s the point in a U.N. ban on driftnets when all the fishing vessels we saw are using driftnets?” asked Will McCallum, head of oceans for Greenpeace UK, in comments to Reuters.

“There is little to no enforcement in international waters... We need a global ocean treaty ... to resolve this enormous governance gap.”

Nations are due to meet in August for negotiations over such a pact, designed to attempt to set up safeguards for parts of the ocean similar to reserves established on land.

Last month, representatives of 30 nations met to discuss ways to save fast-depleting tuna stocks in the Indian Ocean. The meeting ended without any new agreement.


By Katharine Houreld



Editor’s note: This article reiterates what the Seychelles Minister for Fisheries and the Blue Economy, Jean-François Ferrari, recently said in an interview with the local media regarding how the international media choose to put Seychelles’ REGULATED tuna fishing under a spot light but completely disregard illegal fishing methods and technologies being used in other IOTC regions.

It is important to note that Greenpeace International conducted scientific research in Seychelles in transit towards the Saya de Malha Bank in the Mascarene Plateau region between Seychelles and Mauritius from February 27 to March 30, 2021. It was expected that they were also using this expedition to observe tuna fishing activities in Seychelles waters and thus far no controversy has been spoken of.

This in itself is a sign that we have made progress to address the challenges in the Seychelles tuna industry.


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