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A humpback whale swimming in a soup of marine plastic, is bound to swallow a good deal of indigestible waste



There are some reports and studies about humpback whales being caught up, drowning or otherwise killed in ghost fishing nets or ropes. Ghost fishing is the term used to describe the entanglement or trapping of marine animals by lost or abandoned fishing gear. Ghost fishing can cause serious injuries, infections, starvation, suffocation, drowning, or predation to the affected animals.

According to web search results, humpback whales are one of the species that are vulnerable to ghost fishing, especially in their migration and breeding grounds.






Piracy takes many forms. In days of old the term referred to seafaring robbers, swinging from one ship to another with cutlasses, to steal from the unfortunate target. 


Even today, pirates board and hijack ships, holding the crew and vessel to ransom.


But just as bad, ecologically, fishermen are the new blaggards of the sea. Some of the less scrupulous scoundrels going out of their way to catch protected species. Others, simply exceeding sustainable quotas, in conservation areas. These are longer term losses, in the name of short term profits. Robbing the sea of its bounty. Dashing all hopes of a sustainable future Blue Economy.







Plastic pollution is a serious threat to marine life and ecosystems. Plastic can affect marine species in various ways, such as entanglement with large items of plastic, including fishing gear, six-pack rings, and plastic bags, can capture and entangle marine mammals, fish, turtles, and birds, and prevent them from escaping, feeding, or moving normally. This can cause injuries, infections, starvation, suffocation, drowning, or predation.



Any way you slice it, the black market side of the blue economy is potentially harmful to food security. Any black market activity represents a burden on those who are trading legitimately. Illegal fishing, except for anglers, fishing for own use, upsets the efforts of those who are working to restore fisheries. Illegally caught products can provide unfair competition in the marketplace for law-abiding fishermen and seafood industries.



A Minke whale entangled in fishing nets in Orkney, October 2019


OCTOBER 2019 - In Scotland, the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme (Smass), which investigates marine animal deaths, recorded 12 entanglement cases in 2019.

They included a pregnant Minke whale found dead and tangled in a fishing net in Orkney in October. The net was jammed in the animal's baleen, the filter-feeder system inside its mouth.

In May, a humpback whale entangled in fishing gear washed up dead close to Scrabster, near Thurso on the north Caithness coast.

The previous month, another humpback whale was found to have been entangled in rope for "weeks, if not months" before it drowned off the East Lothian coast near Tyningham.






Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing activities violate both national and international fishing regulations. IUU fishing is a global problem that threatens ocean ecosystems and sustainable fisheries. It also threatens our economic security and the natural resources that are critical to global food security, and it puts law-abiding fishermen and seafood producers in the United States and abroad at a disadvantage.

lllegal fishing refers to fishing activities conducted in contravention of applicable laws and regulations, including those laws and rules adopted at the regional and international level.

Unreported fishing refers to fishing activities that are not reported or are misreported to relevant authorities in contravention of national laws and regulations or reporting procedures of a relevant regional fisheries management organization.

Unregulated fishing occurs in areas or for fish stocks for which there are no applicable conservation or management measures and where such fishing activities are conducted in a manner inconsistent with State responsibilities for the conservation of living marine resources under international law. Fishing activities are also unregulated when occurring in an RFMO-managed area and conducted by vessels without nationality, or by those flying a flag of a State or fishing entity that is not party to the RFMO in a manner that is inconsistent with the conservation measures of that RFMO.


- Fishing without a license or quota for certain species.
- Failing to report catches or making false reports.
- Keeping undersized fish or fish that are otherwise protected by regulations.
- Fishing in closed areas or during closed seasons, and using prohibited fishing gear.
- Conducting unauthorized transshipments (e.g., transfers of fish) to cargo vessels.

IUU fishing poses a direct threat to food security and socioeconomic stability in many parts of the world. Developing countries that depend on fisheries for food security and export income are most at risk from IUU fishing. For example, total catches in West Africa are estimated to be 40 percent higher than reported catches. Many crew members on IUU fishing vessels are from poor and underdeveloped parts of the world, and they often work in unsafe conditions.


While there has been some progress and willingness to address the issue of ocean plastic, thus far, Abandoned, Lost and Discarded Fishing Gear (ALDFG) has not been explicitly mentioned in the international legally binding instrument on plastics. ALDFG, also known as ghost gear, is both the most harmful form of marine debris and one of the most significant contributors to ocean plastics. A single abandoned net is estimated to kill an average of 500,000 marine invertebrates (think crabs and shrimp), 1,700 fish and four seabirds. Some estimates show that an as much as 30% decline in fish stocks can be attributed to ghost gear.






April 2019, a humpback whale drowned after being tangled in fishing netting off the coast of East Lothian



APRIL 2019 - A humpback whale was entangled in rope for "weeks, if not months" before it drowned off the coast of East Lothian, a post-mortem examination has found.

The young male, which was about nine metres long (30ft), was found at John Muir Country Park, near Tyningham.

Experts said the marine mammal had become very weak and had the most parasites they had ever seen.

The whale was towed out to sea and moved to another beach for the five-hour necropsy on Wednesday.

Dr Andrew Brownlow, veterinary pathologist for the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme, told the BBC Scotland news website he had found nothing in the whale's stomach.











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