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Impact of Ghost Nets in the Maldives

The Olive Ridley Project was initiated in the Maldives in response to an alarming number of marine organisms becoming entangled in lost abandoned or otherwise discarded fishing nets more commonly referred to as ghost nets. Ghost nets are by their very nature very difficult to track. Ocean currents play a significant role in their distribution, meaning ghost nets may travel thousands of kilometers away from their country of use. In addition, entangled organism often go unnoticed and suffer great injuries and eventual death at a rate that is not fully known. Despite sustainable fishing practices in the Maldives, predominantly pole and line, entangled marine life continues to frequent Maldivian waters. Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) sea turtles make up the majority of entanglements (92%), but also Hawksbills and greens have been found along with other species. This seminar attempts to explain the nature of ghost nets and ghost fishing, which fisheries in the Indian Ocean pose a significant risk to Maldivian marine fauna, the types of injuries sustained to entangled marine organisms and a look into why the Olive Ridley are predominantly becoming entangled.

Part 1: What are ghost nets?

Part 2: Where do ghost nets come from?

Part 3: How do ghost nets affect marine life?

Part 4: How can I get involved?

Part 5: Questions and Answers

Further Reading

  • Anderson R.C. & Waheed, A. (1990) Exploratory fishing for large pelagic species in the Maldives. Bay of Bengal Programme Report, 46, 1-44.
  • Frazier J., Aruaz R., Chevalier J., Formia A., Fretey J., Godfrey M.H., Marquez M.R., Pandav B. & Shankar K. (2007) (In: P. Plotkin (Ed)) Biology and conservation of Ridley sea turtles. John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. pp. 253-296.
  • IOTC–SC16 2013. Report of the Sixteenth Session of the IOTC Scientific Committee. Busan, Rep. of Korea, 2–6 December 2013. IOTC–2013–SC16–R[E]: pp266.
  • IOTC–WPTT15 (2013). Report of the Fifteenth Session of the IOTC Working Party on Tropical Tunas. San Sebastian, Spain, 23–28 October 2013. IOTC–2013– WPTT15–R[E]: 59.
  • IOTC (2014). Report of the Eighteenth Session of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission. Colombo, Sri Lanka, 1–5 June 2014. IOTC–2014–S18–R[E]: 47.
  • Moreno G. & Herrera M. (2013). Estimation of fishing capacity by tuna fishing fleets in the Indian Ocean. Report presented at the 16th Session of the Scientific Committee of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission. Busan, Republic of Korea, 2–6 December 2013. IOTC–2013–SC16–INF04. 8pp
  • Wilcox C., Hardesty B.D., Sharples R., Griffin D.A., Lawson T.J., & Gunn R. (2012) Ghostnet impacts on globally threatened turtles, a spatial risk analysis for northern Australia. Conservation Letters 1, 1–8

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