The Ecological Cost of Mosquito Net Fishing

Modern Farmer –

Unable to afford fishing nets, fishermen in poor countries have been using anti-malaria mosquito nets to catch fish and feed their families.

This practice has alarmed researchers who worry the misuse of the nets will pose risks to health, devastate ecosystems and threaten food security. Until now, experts have only been able to speculate about the impacts this kind of fishing was having on marine populations. But a new study has found that fishermen using these nets in the seagrass meadows of Mozambique are disproportionately catching huge amounts of baby fish.

Researcher Benjamin Jones, with Stockholm University, worked with fishermen in 10 different villages to see what kinds of fish people were catching using these nets. He found that fishermen using mosquito nets caught more than half the daily average catch, but that the bulk of the fish were juvenile and less than 4 inches long.

“Once you remove those fish, it means that no fish are entering maturity and no fish are reproducing,” Jones says. “Effectively, if you remove that many juvenile fish, the marine fish populations could just collapse completely. And that’s the kind of negative ecological function of this type of fishing.”

Read more