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Staggering graphic reveals magnitude of problematic practice devastating our oceans: 'This is not okay'

"I thought those things were banned for good long ago."

"I thought those things were banned for good long ago."

Photo Credit: iStock

To cast a wide net means to investigate many solutions to a problem. However, in at least one situation, the wide net itself is the problem.

A staggering graphic posted to X, formerly known as Twitter, by GO GREEN (@ECOWARRIORSS) showcased the sheer size of supertrawler nets used in commercial fishing.

"The devastating trail super trawlers leave behind," reads the caption above the image of a boat dragging a net said to be over 3,000 feet long. As further showcased by the graphic for context, this is three times the height of the Eiffel Tower. 

"Huge Factory ships that stay at sea from months consuming the ocean of life," the caption continues. "It's estimated that over 300,000 small whales, dolphins and porpoises die from entanglement in fishing nets every year," a statistic reported by the World Wildlife Fund.

Fishermen use the nets to catch thousands of tons of fish in a single expedition. The large boats that tow the nets can stay at sea for weeks and are equipped to process and freeze the animals at the same time. 

While good for the gatherers, the nets and boats are incredibly damaging to the marine ecosystem. The boats pump out loads of planet-warming pollution from the operation and processing of the enormous catches. 

Blue Planet Society explains that the huge net yields are not sustainable for the fishing industry's future. Further, while they target fish like mackerel, blue whiting, and herring, they also wreak havoc on other species through bycatch. 

Bycatch is the other marine life — whales, dolphins, turtles, and porpoises, to name a few — unintentionally caught in the nets. This is especially devastating to species — like the vaquita — that are already critically endangered and facing extinction.

Lastly, many nets break free and get left in the ocean, becoming "ghost nets" that further trap marine life and harm coral reefs. 

While volunteers are working to clean the abandoned nets from the oceans and brave bystanders are rescuing animals trapped in nets, the practice needs to be better regulated. 

Commenters on the X post were understandably upset by the graphic. 

"This is not okay," stated one simply. 

"I thought those things were banned for good long ago," added another. 

Individually, we can all help by demanding better policies and holding companies accountable for their practices. We can also use apps like Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch guide, which allows you to search by region and learn which types of fish are the best to buy where you are.

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