Long Lining

Thousands of Bycatch Every Year

What is Longlining?

This device is mostly used near the surface in the pelagic zone, but it can also be used at deeper depths along the sea floor.

This device consists of a long line/ main line and branch lines called gangions or snoods. Attached to the end of these snoods are baited hooks. The snoods are attached to the main line by a clip or swivel and have a hook on the other end. Longlines act as several individual fishing rods so when the fish come to get the bait, they get hooked.

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What is the long line out to catch?

The types of fish that are harvested with this device are swordfish, tuna, halibut, sablefish, and bluefin tuna.

How Does Longlining Effect the Ecosystem?

Longlining is harmful to the marine ecosystems because many marine organisms get severely injured or even killed when they bite on to the bait meant for the fisherman's intended fish species. This poses a significant threat to sharks, whose population is already declining, sea turtles, sperm whales, dolphins and sea birds.

What ways are there to mitigate the effects of longlining?

Special hooks can be put into place to lessen the injury of other organisms who grab the bait by accident. Also, many birds grab the hook when the line is being set out, so changing the time of releasing to a time when the sea birds are foraging on land can prevent many unnecessary seabird deaths. Alas, these small mitigating factors have done little to significantly decrease seabird and shark deaths that result from longline bycatch.

Does the government regulate longlining

The U.S government has put some regulation on longlining practices to decrease the number of seabird deaths. It has been extremely effective in reducing seabird deaths, but the regulation disregards other species like dolphins, sharks, and sea turtles who are killed as bycatch by longlining.

What is Bycatch?

Bycatch is the unwanted fish and other marine animals that are caught during commercial fishing for a different species.

How Much Bycatch Results from Longlining

Tens of thousands of sea birds are being killed every year. It is believed that upwards of 44,000 albatross, a type of seabird, die every year as a result of Japanese longliners. Also, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, (FAO) estimates that 40,000 sea turtles are killed every year by longlining.

What would happen if the government banned longlining?

The many species, such as some sharks, turtles, and sea birds, would no longer be having their populations decimated. Some of these species that are going extinct would have the opportunity to replenish their populations. There would be a less steady stream of fish because fishermen would not be able to secure thousands of fish in one go. As a result of this the price of many fish that used to be caught with longlines would go up.

Is longlining environmentally sustainable?

Long lining isn’t environmentally sustainable because it picks up thousands of fish in one go, which decimates the fish’s population. If the population gets too small then it can’t easily replenish itself through reproduction.

what are some alternatives seafood choices for consumers?

To become a more sustainable seafood consumer, one must first purchase seafood that has been caught through sustainable seafood practices that cause little or no disruption to the marine ecosystem it is getting fish from. Consumers can also begin buying halibut from farmed tanks, many of which are in Nova Scotia, Canada.


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