Discarded fishing nets (also known as ghost nets) and fishing equipment are a substantial contributor in polluting the oceans. Some studies and reports suggest that they are the biggest contributor of waste in the oceans.
“Over three-quarters of the GPGP mass was carried by debris larger than 5 cm and at least 46% was comprised of fishing nets.” (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-22939-w)
As we require more no-fishing zones to re-populate the fish in our oceans, we need a verification system for nets and fishing gear that is being discarded or lost in the oceans.
As fishing nets and gear are easy to discard in the sea without anyone noticing, a fine has to be implemented. The nets could receive a unique identifier to control its status (RFID tag attached to the equipment that can easily be scanned and digitally verified). Fishing companies are required to make regular reports about the loss and disposal of their fishing nets and if their gear is lost in the ocean, they have to pay a hefty fine.
The pilot project “NetTag”, which is tracking fishing nets with acoustic transponder tags, is funded by the EU and nearing its completion in June 2021 (https://cinea.ec.europa.eu/featured-projects/nettag_en).
Upon successful completion the system should be implemented EU-wide.