Six months after the launch of project Indigo’s Fish&Click mobile app, 4,000 pieces of fishing gear waste have been identified.
Fishing gear waste is a huge problem, which is polluting our seas and killing marine life. Data from the European Commission (2018) reveals that fishing gear accounted for 27% of the plastic marine waste found on European beaches.
The Fish&Click app applies a participatory science approach, whereby members of the public are urged to report fishing gear waste on beaches. Since its launch 700 reports have been made at sea and on the coasts of Brittany, Normandy and Hauts-de-France.
This data will enable new solutions for the management of lost gear and will guide research on biodegradable fishing gear as part of project Indigo.
At sea, fishing gear waste can generate ‘ghost fishing’, where derelict fishing gear continues to fish and trap marine life. Another side effect, due to waves and UV rays, is that they degrade into microplastics that marine animals can ingest, thus affecting the entire food chain.
Of the 4,000 items of fishing gear reported, ropes make up 56% of the reports on land, mainly in Brittany and the Hauts-de-France. Observations in Normandy stand out with 27% being aquaculture equipment waste (e.g. mussel farming nets) and 28% fishing nets. At sea, 53% of the waste identified is lines and 40% of ropes.
Fish&Click continues throughout 2021 and the team of scientists are calling on members of the public, fishermen, divers, walkers, boaters and sea users, to report any gear or part of gear found at sea or on the coast via the Fish&Click website or on the Fish&Click mobile app.
These results allow the scientists involved in Indigo project, led by the University of Southern Brittany, to establish possible correlations between the presence of lost gear, the fishing and aquaculture trades but also climatic events such as storms.