START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x
2,611,466 people care about Environment & Wildlife

Gotcha! Google Earth Shows Weir Fishing More Common Than Reported

Gotcha! Google Earth Shows Weir Fishing More Common Than Reported

That innocent-looking picture of what looks like two interlocking hearts above is actually something more sinister: a weir, also known as a fish trap. The weir creates an obstruction, making it hard for the fish to swim out once the tide recedes, and fishing crews can easily snag their catch. Like other fishing practices worldwide, the use of fish weirs is governed by conservation policies, one of which revolves around accurately reporting the number of weirs and the number of fish caught in them every year.

Without this critical information, it’s difficult if not impossible to manage fisheries sustainably and appropriately. And that’s why a new study has some conservationists extremely worried, because it suggests that the incidence of weir fishing may be six times higher than previously reported. That’s a difference that can’t be accounted for by simple margins of error or a few districts that aren’t reporting quite accurately. Weir fishing is often not considered a critical issue because of its small scale, but it adds up over time, especially when the disparity in numbers is this acute, and it may disrupt juvenile fish, creating a ripple effect for fisheries’ health.

How did these findings come about? Well, the story is actually rather fascinating. Researcher Dalal Al-Abdulrazzak is from Kuwait, where this practice is common, and she’s very used to the sight of weirs in coastal waters. In fact, it’s such a common sight for her that she was confused by the low numbers reported to the United Nations every year, because the reported data didn’t mesh at all with her experience.

So she undertook an experiment, and she did it using a simple and freely available tool: Google Earth. She used the software to look for weirs, and almost immediately, she began noticing that despite the low numbers many nations were reporting, the satellites told a different tale. She noted that her data is by no means perfect, but that it was certainly more accurate than those used currently by the UN. Furthermore, they illustrated that there’s a low cost, accessible way to monitor fisheries in areas beyond the Middle East, which was where she focused her study.

This study is major news, and it joins a list of environmental accomplishments made courtesy of Google Earth. The software has been used to map forest fires, deforestation, environmental changes at sites like Lake Chad, light pollution, and so much more. It’s a powerful tool for citizen scientists and researchers alike to get connected with the environment and track the changes around them, and to engage on a very personal level with issues they’re interested in.

This also has tremendous implications on a policy and government level. What if Google Earth could be used to monitor certain conditions, instead of relying on government satellites or costly private surveys? While the idea of being surveyed from above is something many people find unsettling, as this case illustrates, sometimes it has important environmental benefits, generating a reminder that sometimes there’s a complex tension between what’s right for the environment and what’s right for ordinary citizens.

Read more: , , , , , , ,

Photo: Carrie Kellenberger.

have you shared this story yet?

some of the best people we know are doing it

50 comments

+ add your own
5:07AM PDT on Sep 2, 2014

thanks for sharing

2:20AM PDT on Apr 7, 2014

Thanks

3:01PM PST on Dec 8, 2013

I think we can start counting the years to 'no fish in the sea day' we have to change.

2:48AM PST on Dec 7, 2013

Good post. Thanks.

2:08AM PST on Dec 7, 2013

Oh Ya they lie big time !

9:19PM PST on Dec 6, 2013

Fisherman are so full of it; this is no surprise. I would be nice that free modern technology could be used to monitor fishing habits but would they actually use it.

6:24PM PST on Dec 6, 2013

Sharp thinking Dalal; using Google Earth the way you did. But with the oceans becoming a cesspool of industrial and pharmaceutical wastes, toxins, mercury and now, radioactive ions from Fukushima, I and many more are refusing to eat ocean fish and this is creating less demand.

Understand that in our oceans, it is mostly the phytoplanktons and zooplanktons that support the forage fish that feed the larger species (aka, food chain). The oceans also provide 50% of the planet's oxygen. It is the degradation of our oceans that's creating massive algae blooms, decreasing oxygen levels and increasing ocean acidity. Our oceans are dying and what affects the oceans also affects the land masses. The very existence of life on this planet is in grave danger.

2:21PM PST on Dec 6, 2013

Over fishing not only by the weirs but by big ships with 60 mile long nets...all has to be modified so the fish can live out lives long enough to reproduce...or we will not eat fish any more.

2:04PM PST on Dec 6, 2013

Thanks for the information.

1:45PM PST on Dec 6, 2013

Very sad

add your comment



Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

meet our writers

Kathleen J. Kathleen is currently the Activism Coordinator at Care2. more
Story idea? Want to blog? Contact the editors!
ads keep care2 free

more from causes

Animal Welfare

Causes Canada

Causes UK

Children

Civil Rights

Education

Endangered Wildlife

Environment & Wildlife

Global Development

Global Warming

Health Policy

Human Rights

LGBT rights

Politics

Real Food

Trailblazers For Good

Women's Rights




Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.