Fishery Discards 35 Percent of Its Catch Every Year

Mar 25, 2014 10:57 AM EDT | Matt Mercuro (m.mercuro@autoworldnews.com)

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Fish

Fishes are seen at a wet market. (Photo : Reuters)

The flatfish trawl fishery in the Gulf of Alaska reportedly throws back 34 million pounds of fish, or 35 percent of its catch, as waste every year, according to non-profit group Oceana.

Nearly five million pounds of cod and two million of halibut are among the fish discarded by the fishery.

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Oceana came up with their numbers after obtaining access to the National Marine Fisheries Service's own data from 2010.

"The value of the discarded halibut is worth more than the fish they are going after. This level of high bycatch affects fish populations, and we would rather be making use of the fish we catch and count them toward sustaining populations", said Jon Warrenchuk, a marine scientist with Oceana, according to AustrianTribune.com.

Warrenchuk added that most of the fish caught are young and have not spawned yet.

Though they are big enough to evade their predators, they are caught and then discarded before they're able to reproduce.

NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator Eileen Sobeck claimed in a recent statement that the group is trying its best to avoid bycatch, and that the problem is the major concern for NOAA Fisheries.

Bycatch, which is the name for non-targeted fish.

"This has larger ecological aspects, when millions of pounds of fish are discarded. That changes food web," Warrenchuk said.

The news comes the same week that Oceana released a report that exposed nine U.S. fishers that throw away almost half of what they catch.

The report, "Wasted Catch: Unsolved Bycatch Problems in U.S. Fishers," discusses that 20 percent of total U.S. catch is thrown away every year.

"Anything can be bycatch," said Dominique Cano-Stocco, campaign director at Oceana, according to WorldFishing.net. "Whether it's the thousands of sea turtles that are caught to bring you shrimp or the millions of pounds of cod and halibut that are thrown overboard after fishermen have reached their quota, bycatch is a waste of our ocean's resources. Bycatch also represents a real economic loss when one fisherman trashes another fisherman's catch."

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