Fishing activities play an important role due to its strong presence along the entire coastline, the wide variety of fishing gear, captured species, and the high commercial value of its products. Despite its economical, cultural and environmental importance, small-scale local fisheries have received a reduced national attention, which results in a lack of information preventing a sustainable management of the ecosystems and marine resources al a local scale. What fishing gears are being used? When are they being used? How many are lost? These are some of the questions that can be placed, and for which there is virtually, no information.
Since the sixties, when we started using synthetic fibres for the construction of nets, lines and other fishing gear, Thousands of kilometres of nets have been set in waters of northern Portugal. Many of them have been lost. Fishing gear has been abandoned, lost or discarded in all seas and oceans ever since fishing began. It has become an uncontrollable capture phenomenon, leading to a high mortality rate of marine resources and causing both ecological and economic damages. These fishing gears can also cause changes to the marine environment and also increasing the navigation hazards (causing accidents and damage to vessels), enabling the introduction of invasive species and dirtying beaches with debris washing ashore.
Ghost fishing is used to describe all the captures of fishes and other organisms by fishing gear which is no longer under a fisherman’s control due to accidental or deliberate dereliction or simply lost due to environmental or human factors. Over the past 50 years, the extent and impact of this problem has grown considerably with the increase in fishing effort and the use of highly durable fishing gear made of long-lasting synthetic materials.
The E-REDES project is implementing an unprecedented pilot study, where fishing nets are made from a biodegradable resin, specifically designed for the manufacture of monofilaments to be used in fishing nets, are provided to the local fishing community. Opinions on the efficiency and durability of the nets will be collected from the adherent fishermen, now equipped with these innovative biodegradable nets. The project will equip the more than 30 vessels that operate on the coast of Esposende, providing the vessels that chose to support this initiative, biodegradable nets during the one-year experimental period. Its future use can only be ensured if the fishing community is fully informed about its fishing efficiency and the advantages for the marine environment.
Seas and oceans are an essential mean of transport and communication in an increasingly globalized world. They are a source of food and pharmaceuticals, energy and both geological and genetic resources. In addiction to this direct or indirect use associated with these activities, the sea and the coastal areas play an essential role in the well being and quality of life of persons and societies, whether through sports and leisure activities or to provide basic services, such as climate regulation, retention of carbon dioxide and oxygen production.
The E-Redes project is a project promoted by the Municipality of Esposende, in partnership with the municipal company Esposende Ambiente, the University of Minho and the Environmental Association - Rio Neiva. It should also be noted that the E-Redes project contributes to the fulfillment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, namely SDG 11 - Sustainable cities and communities, SDG 12 - Sustainable production and consumption, SDG 14 – Life below water and the SDG 17 - Partnerships for Sustainable Development.