Should There Be a Worldwide Ban on the Use of Driftnets?
Driftnets are fishing nets that are held on or just below the surface of a sea or lake. Floats attached to a rope along the top of the net and weights attached to another rope along the foot of the net keep it vertical in the water. Their height varies depending on the fish species they target, but it’s generally somewhere between 20 to 30 meters. Driftnets are often used to catch sardines, herring, albacore, swordfish and salmon, species that swim close to the surface of the water.
Driftnet fishing is common worldwide, even though the United Nations banned the practice in international waters (more than 200 nautical miles from any coast) in 1992. Supporters of driftnet fishing argue that it’s cost effective, fuel efficient, and effective at bringing in large amounts of fish in one catch. Opponents say the practice has endangered many species, caused environmental damage, and encouraged illegal fishing habits. Should there be a worldwide ban on driftnets?


1st Statement:
Any fish that crosses the path of a driftnet in the ocean may be tangled or caught in the net. Non-target individuals caught in the net are called by-catch. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO) estimated that the global by-catch rates are as high as 27 million tons of fish each year. Some species caught as by-catch - including sharks, dolphins, whales, turtles, sea birds, and other marine mammals - are now endangered. As this practice has a disastrous impact on the oceans, it must be banned.

2nd Statement:
Driftnets lost or abandoned at sea due to storms causing strong currents, accidental loss, or purposeful discard become ghost nets. The nets, which are made of synthetic material, are resistant to rotting or breaking down. Marine animals can easily become tangled in ghost nets. The float line on the net allows it to be pushed in the current, which causes ecological damage to plant life and other habitats as the nets drag the sea floor.

3rd Statement:
By-catch isn’t the only problem of driftnets. The other problem lies in the species they are intended to catch. These driftnets are so effective that their use actually pushes these species to the brink of extinction. For example, Bluefin tuna catches in the Mediterranean have dropped by over 80 percent, and many experts fear its extinction in the coming decade.


1st Statement:
By-catch is not a valid reason to ban driftnets. When used well, driftnets can be safe and effective. In addition, by-catch can be limited by restricting the size of the mesh in the net, so that dolphins recognize the net as a wall and thus avoid it. Attaching sound-devices that emit sounds to warn dolphins can also save many of them. Limiting the overall length of driftnets, as the EU has done, can also minimize by-catch. There is also no evidence that driftnet fishing is harming any endangered species. Other factors, such as pollution and coastal habitat damage, are probably to blame. If we can strictly control and regulate the use of driftnets, there’s no need to ban them altogether.

2nd Statement:
While it is important to protect our oceans, it’s also important for fishermen to make a living. Fishermen rely on how much fish is brought in, and they need to bring in a certain amount to make a certain income. Fishermen need to have the ability to use driftnets so that they can continue to catch enough fish to feed the country. This is why in the 1980s, UNFAO recommended and even went so far as to help with the use of driftnets in Bangladesh. There the use of driftnets increased the number of fish caught by about 45 percent and at a 40 percent lower cost, providing a vital means of subsistence to the locals.

3rd Statement:
The reports of extinction through over-fishing are inconclusive. In addition, there is already a ban on the use of driftnets in international waters. That should be enough. This provides fish with enough “breeding space” to recover from overfishing. If some countries decide to overfish in their territories, then they have the right to do so and the international community has no business intervening in such domestic issues.
1. What is UNFAO?
2. What are the major reasons supporting Pros?
3. What are the major reasons supporting Cons?
1. What is your opinion about the issue?
2. Is there any solution?
3. What does “extinction” mean? Use the word in a sentence.