Bycatch is the term commonly in use for the accidental catch of fishing in the fishing gear. European waters present such a hub to bycatch fauna. A number of aquatic faunas come under gear accidentally including sharks, rays, aquatic birds, and turtles. About forty-four thousands of sea turtles come under fishing gear each year. This number is very huge when comparing to the worldwide population of sea turtles.
The University of Exeter, Cypris Bycatch project, Birdlife Europe, and other partners in Europe are working in hands to monitor and lessen the bycatch of these animals. The problem is not only with Europe, the world everywhere presents a hub to bycatch of fauna.
The case becomes severe when addressing the problem of vulnerable species worldwide. A two years study reveals that the most affected species during bycatch are sharks, skates, rays, and sea turtles (http://www.fao.org/gfcm/data/vulnerablespecies). These fishing gears are also harmful to other species like those of dolphins. Studies in Europe show that this bycatch presents a problem to the population of two species of dolphins. European waters are under extensive study and therefore more reports come on record of the scientific community.
A significant decrease in the population of green turtles and loggerhead turtles is also on the significant record. Both these species are threatened by the redlist of IUCN.
What should we do?
In a world with a population of humans more than normal, that is against the available resources, it is the need of today to focus on the incidental loss of species. These species including sharks, skates, rays, dolphins, turtles, and seabirds are at greater risk of loss today than in the past. We should focus on decreasing the bycatch of fish as well as other larger animals. The study on European Waters is key as it is a hub to bycatch aquatic fauna, for us and future generations. Worldwide similar studies should also be carried out to lessen the number of bycatch animals.