Impact of select fishing gears on non-target fauna. An economic assessment
Fishing is the oldest form of hunting dating back at least 40,000 years. With advances in technology fishing vessels have grown larger in size, capable of carrying bigger loads and able to cross oceans in pursuit of fish. Techniques for catching fish include hand gathering, netting, angling, spearing and trapping. Humans play a pivotal role in the eradication of terrestrial megafauna on several continents and megafaunal loss continues today in both terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Recent declines in the number of large marine vertebrates that are not commercially valuable, have brought out studies on the environmental impacts of bycatch. In spite of recognising this ecological issue, the efforts that go into quantifying this data is sparse. In addition to the complex nature of this study, many vulnerable species live in pelagic habitats, making surveys extensive and often expensive. Bycatch data is sporadic and our understanding of the demography of the affected populations is inconsistent. These factors, combined with the large spatial scales that pelagic vertebrates and fishing fleets cover, make accurate and timely bycatch assessments difficult. This project focuses on the amount of non-target fauna that are caught by select fish netting gear over a span of 40 months in order to assess its economic impact it has on a coastal fishing village of Tamil Nadu, India.