Portuguese fishermen and scientists together at the forefront of ‘ghost’ net fishing

A team of researchers linked to the sciences of the sea and fishermen from Póvoa do Varzim and Vigo are carrying out a joint research aimed at the rescue of thousands of nets lost during the work on small coastal or trawlers on the high seas. Nobody knows for sure how many tons of nets and other type of ‘cages’ for fishing for mollusks or crustaceans drift or fix themselves on the rocks, “constituting real traps” for all species of fish, turtles or dolphins that end up entangled in the meshes.

“These nets or pieces of nets that are torn by natural wear or damaged by marine litter continue to fish, in a phantom activity that does not feed anyone, nor has an economic return for those who live on the sea”, warns Marisa Almeida, senior researcher at the Interdisciplinary Center Marine and Environmental Research Institute (CIIMAR) of the University of Porto and coordinator of the NetTag project, which started in January 2019 and would be concluded in December, if the monitoring tests at sea had not skidded due to “pandemic constraints”.

The research, financed at € 400 thousand by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), through the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME), is directed at a double aspect: one dedicated to actions to prevent ocean pollution, another for the development of a new technology to rescue the so-called ‘ghost networks’ lost at sea.