Venezuela: Drag Free Fishing

Fishing with dragging nets is a non selective method in which nets are thrown to the bottom of the sea obtaining massive amounts of commercial species. The problem is that not only the desired species get caught in the net, but also other fish and mammals not appropriate for human consumption. Fishers then return the “undesirables” to the sea which causes contamination and increases the number of endangered species.

In 2008, Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez alerted on the impact that this kind of fishing had on the ecosystem, began promoting an alternative and “non capitalist” methods such as artisan fishing. It isn’t easy to understand the real reasons why the president made these statements, given that for the past ten years this is almost the only environmental protective public policy they’ve made. However, since March 14th of 2009 the dragging fishing is forbidden by law in all the national territory.

With this ban they hope to protect biodiversity and reduce the negative impact that this kind of fishing made in the sea and also improve the economy and life quality of artisan fishers. So far, there has been an increase in seafood prices and a shortage of supplies, even though authorities affirmed that dragging fishing only represented 6 percent of national fish production.

There is no doubt about the big step we are making with this law in the environmental issue, however, it should be complemented with other measures that help us achieve the desired goal: to protect the environment and biodiversity. Being in the top ten of biodiverse countries in the planet, it is our responsibility to take action.

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