Commercial fishers want to tackle marine litter because it damages the fishing industry

An image to illustrate how marine litter could impact the fishing industry
© IStock/enviromantic

Commercial fishers want to be part of the solution for marine litter, due to their awareness of the potential for lasting damage to their catches and the fishing industry, according to a new study.

The research has been published in Marine Pollution Bulletin and assessed the perceptions of fishers about Fishing for Litter (FFL), a marine litter initiative that was been operating around the British coastline since 2005.

Dr Kayleigh Wyles, Lecturer in Environmental Psychology at the University of Surrey, commented: “Marine litter is a global, persistent, and increasing threat to the oceans, and there are many great initiatives which are currently working to address this. Fishing for Litter is a unique example, accessing remote and hard to reach litter. Our study shows it makes use of people in the right place at the right time, and empowers fishers to do something about a problem that directly affects them (both whilst at work but also during their leisure time). As such, it can make an important contribution to an issue which might often seem to sit across boundaries and policies.”

Whose responsibility is it?

Many fishers said they often found litter in their hauls, meaning that keeping the sea and coasts clean was important to them. They also believed that the rest of the fishing industry has similar attitudes to this, including that most fisher dispose of their own waste responsibly.

Associate Professor (Reader) in Psychology Dr Sabine Pahl, from the University of Plymouth’s International Marine Litter Research Unit, added: “The responsibility for marine litter does not sit at the door of any one industry or organisation. However, it does require a collective global change of behaviour and that is something we should all be working to address. Our study shows fishers are passionate about their seas, and ultimately this is a positive initiative that others – whether they work on land or at sea – can emulate as we look to reduce the global impact of marine litter now and in the future.”

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