Lost fishing gears and ghost-fishing in Latvian waters

June 19th, 2024 | Research

This study was first initiated by ghost gear retrieval project which started last year by Riga Technical University (RTU), and aims to raise awareness on ALDFG presence in the Gulf of Riga (more: RTU to clear Baltic Sea of ghost nets). During the ALDFG retrieval operation carried out last year, several ghost fishing nets were removed from a shipwreck that have been estimated to be exposed to ghost fishing for over a 40 year period. During this operation, both dead and live fish were observed enmeshed in these nets.

The recent study aimed to summarize the potential gear loss rates over the last decade in the coastal areas of Latvia, including the Gulf of Riga and western coast of Latvia in the Baltic Sea using existing ALDFG estimates. The results showed that a considerable amount of different ALDFG can be accumulated over in this area, such as gillnets and entangling nets and trap gear (2762 netting sheets (CI: 969–4976) and 1379 lost trap gear (CI: 473–2337)).

Foto: Riga Technical University

Enclosed marine environments such as the Gulf of Riga are particularly vulnerable for all types of pollution and anthropogenic effects, including pollution resulting from ALDFG. Therefore, this study highlighted the need for the fisheries management to implement ALDFG monitoring mechanisms and subsequent clean-up operations to limit continuous pollution and ghost fishing. Further following ALDFG clean-up and gear mapping operations are planned during 2024 by RTU as well as projects aiming at improving recyclability of recovered ALDFG.

Full study published in Marine Policy can be accessed here.

[1] Abandoned, Lost or otherwise Discarded Fishing Gear