Bycatch, the unintended capture of fish and other species, significantly contributes to overall declines in many marine life populations. Fishing operations worldwide throw away about 25% of their catch—that’s approximately 44 billion pounds of (dead) fish each year (1). In addition, dolphins, sea turtles, seals, sharks, and even seabirds can get caught by accident in fishing gear and drown.
Shrimp trawls have historically been among the worst culprits when it comes to bycatch. On average worldwide, for every pound of shrimp caught, up to ten pounds of bycatch is discarded (1). Fortunately this number is declining with improved catch methods and a commitment to sustainability on the part of some wild shrimp fisheries. A much preferred alternative is catching shrimp in traps, which lets fishermen release 98% of unwanted animals alive.
1. Monterey Bay Aquarium: Seafood Watch Program. www.seafoodwatch.org. Accessed March 16, 2007.