Friday January 26, 2024


More than a quarter of the wild seafood that the world eats comes from the seafloor. Shrimp, skate, sole, cod and other creatures—mostly flat ones—that roam the bottom of the ocean get scooped up in huge nets. These nets, called bottom trawls, wrangle millions of tons of fish worth billions of dollars each year. But they also damage coral, sponges, starfish, worms, and other sand-dwellers as the nets scrape against the ocean bed. Environmentalists sometimes liken the practice to strip-mining or clear-cutting forests.

According to a new study in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science, bottom trawling may be even worse than many people had thought. Dragging nets through the sand—which occurs over some 5 million square kilometers, a little over 1 percent of the ocean floor—isn’t just a threat to marine life. The study found that stirring up carbon-rich sediment on the seafloor releases some 370 million metric tons of planet-warming carbon dioxide every year, roughly the same as running 100 coal-fired power plants.

“I was pretty surprised,” said Trisha Atwood, a watershed scientist at Utah State University and the paper’s lead author. The findings, Atwood added, suggest that restricting bottom trawling could have “almost instantaneous benefits” for the climate.

Read more >

Link copied successfully