Ghost fishing net removed in the Medes Islands marine reserve in Catalonia

September 27, 2016, University of Barcelona
The findings show that bottom-trawling is still illegally done in the Medes Islands in Catalonia (Spain). Credit: Bernat Hereu, UB-IRBio

A team of researchers of the Faculty of Biology and the Biodiversity Research Institute of the University of Barcelona (IRBio), together with the staff of the Natural Park of Montgrí, Medes Islands and Baix Ter, and the Catalan firefighter service removed a fishing net abandoned in the Marine Reserve of the Medes Islands (Girona, Spain) this September.

The first localization warning came from an instructor of a diving center in Estartit (Baix Empordà). The net taken from the sea bed is 200 meters long and quite heavy; it was left on a sandy bottom with pebbles and some rocks. The information from the instructor and the level of epibiosis (encrusted organisms) on the net indicate that it was submerged for two years.

Before removing it, experts studied it to calculate the impact it could have on the sea beds; they also sought and released caught wildlife. Then they took it from the bottom, avoiding erosion and protecting marine species during the extraction process. Due to the scale and weight of the net, the firefighters had to take it out in two steps with the help of an air balloon. According to the experts, although the erosion effects of the net on the rocks are significant, the trace that remained on the sea bed didn't have any important impact.

Avoiding ghost fishing

These findings show that there is still illegal bottom trawling in the . The results of the park's marine biodiversity monitoring program show a decline of some commercial species such as the gilthead sea bream, thought to be due bottom trawling, which this net proves.

This activity is part of the project "Evitem la pesca fantasma," which started in 2015 at the Natural Park of Montgrí, Medes Islands and Baix Ter, to remove nets and fishing gear from sea beds to protect species and benthonic ecosystems from negative impacts.

Explore further: Removing lost fishing nets to protect the seabed

Related Stories

Removing lost fishing nets to protect the seabed

June 15, 2015

To remove lost fishing nets and gear used in both artisan and leisure fishing from the seabed in order to avoid negative environmental impact on marine ecosystems is the main objective of the campaign that was set up on 12 ...

Recommended for you

Computing the origin of life

December 14, 2018

As a principal investigator in the NASA Ames Exobiology Branch, Andrew Pohorille is searching for the origin of life on Earth, yet you won't find him out in the field collecting samples or in a laboratory conducting experiments ...

Black widow spiders dial up posture for survival and sex

December 14, 2018

A new study led by Western University's Natasha Mhatre shows that body dynamics and posture are crucial to how black widow spiders decode the important vibrations that travel through their webs and up their legs. Black widows ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.