Bycatch is destroying seabird populations — and that includes penguins

gentoo penguin swimming

A recent study reported on in the New York Times found that 400,000 seabirds are getting killed each year by gillnets — those long nets used by fishing vessels.

And you can add roughly 160,000 additional seabirds that are hooked by longlines.

In short, modern fishing practices are destroying the oceans and its creatures.

From the article:

Gillnets, mesh nets that are much smaller, are used both by commercial and small local fishermen. Anchored in the water by weights and buoys, they are designed to snare fish by their gills, but they can catch any creature that is too large to swim through the mesh. Conservationists say that includes large numbers of sea turtles and mammals like porpoises, seals and even whales.

When people hear “seabird” I suspect that many of them think of seagulls — which are often referred to as “beach pigeons.”

In other words, they’re not exactly loved by all.

But seabirds also include penguins — like Humbolds and Magellanics (the ones I wrote about). The Alabatross are also in trouble no thanks to the fishing industry.

Their are two solutions here: We can ban fishing nets and longlines globally, which I’m not optimistic of seeing happen.

Or we can collectively stop eating seafood. We are core of the problem. We create the demand that sends those vessels out there.

And though we may only want mahi-mahi, we carry the burden of taking the lives of so many other creatures.