2000), and it is estimated that reef-associated fish constitute about a quarter of the total fish catch in developing countries (Burke et al. 2011). Globally, as much as 75 per cent of coral reefs are threatened by local and global pressures including overfishing, destructive fishing, coastal development and pollution, aswell as rising ocean temperatures (Burke et al. 2011). A study by Paddack et al. (2009) links fish loss in the Caribbean of 2.6 to 6 per cent per year between 1986 and 2007 to a gradual degradation of coral reefs. Since the 1970s, the region has seen an 80 per cent reduction in coral cover. Similar findings have been observed in the Indo-Pacific where the coral bleaching event of 1998 lead to a wide-scale loss of coral reefs. After five to ten years there was an increase in larger fish (>45cm) while the amount of smaller fish (<30 cm) were declining, indicating a reduction in juvenile fish (Graham et al. 2007). Of all fish and seafood extracted from oceans and freshwater, FAO reports that about 35 per cent is lost or wasted along the food supply chain (Gustavsson et al. 2011a). However it must be Too often fishers lose or leave their used nets, hooks and traps in the ocean. This equipment then floats around and continues to ‘fish’ on its own, often for a long period of time. This phenomenon, referred to as ‘ghost fishing’, traps and kills thousands of fish and other marine life including dolphins, sea turtles, seals and whales every year. Fishing gear can get lost when passing vessels cut the marker buoys or when trawl and seine wraps break during fishing. In some cases, old or broken gear is purposely dumped because the fishers see no value in it and treat the ocean as a waste bin (Smith 2005a). It is primarily passive fishing gear such as longlines, gillnets, entangling nets, trammel nets, traps and pots that are involved in ghost fishing (Smith 2005b). At first smaller fish get trapped in the nets and then the nets get filled with other marine animals including sharks, dolphins and seals as they try to scavenge off the trapped fish and other marine species (Macfadyen et al. 2009). While data is scarce on the number of fish nets being left in the sea worldwide, research on European fisheries suggests that 25 000 nets are either lost or discarded every year in European waters (Brown et al. 2005). In European waters deep water gillnet fisheries targeting deep water shark and monkfish represent the greatest portion of ghost fishing (Brown et al. 2005). Ghost fishing, which affects target fish species, the seabed environment and often endangered marine species, has severe environmental impacts while also constituting a great waste of potential human food (Macfadyen et al. 2009). Ghost fishing
noted that there are inconsistencies in data about the global fish and seafood loss and waste of fish and seafood. This is because there is a lack of data on bycatch and discards, but also because there is a debate about how much of the discards should be considered food loss. Fish discards – the most direct form of fish waste Bycatch, the capture of non-targeted aquatic organisms, is threatening the world’s remaining fish stock. Bycatch is a result of unselective gear that leads to the capture of untargeted fish of incorrect species, size or sex as well as other marine species, such as turtles and sea birds. Though some bycatch is sold, or eaten by crew, most of it is discarded or dumped back into the sea, often dead or dying (Davies et al. 2009; Gilman et al. 2013). The amount of fish that is discarded in commercial fisheries is debated. Average discards in the 1990s were estimated at 7.3 million tonnes, or 8 per cent of total catches (Kelleher 2005).