It’s a catch-and-release strategy that has been hailed by fish experts and conservationists for years.
But now the idea of putting nets in the water could be under threat as fishermen try to keep the animals out of reach of the nets.
In many parts of the world, the nets have been used for decades to catch invasive species such as the brown trout, the world’s most common fish.
But scientists say the practice of putting them in the sea is dangerous.
“There are more than a few people in the world who believe that we should use them to catch the fish, and there are many who say that it’s just a nuisance,” says Steve Nairn, a biologist with the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS).
“We have some of the biggest fish populations in the oceans, we have some really big fish, some of those big fish are pretty common in the ocean.”
He points out that fish nets are also often used to capture invasive species, such as red snapper and swordfish.
“If you’re not using them for fish, it’s a waste of money,” he says.
Nairna says it is important to remember that fish can be found on the ground in most of the Pacific Ocean, and they are often caught by nets.
“They are not native to the Pacific, they are not in the same geographical area that they were here before,” he said.
“It’s just that some of these fish populations are now on the verge of extinction, and some of them are probably not going to recover.”
So what can be done to protect the world-famous fishes?
“We don’t want to kill them, we don’t need to kill those fish,” Nairne says.
“We just need to manage them in a way that’s sustainable, so they don’t cause any environmental harm.”
But the world is in an “acceleration” of fish numbers, he says, and it’s up to us to manage the ocean to prevent these fish from becoming extinct.
To do this, we need to focus on how to keep fish populations healthy, healthy populations, and not just a few that are “good enough”.
“The problem is that we’re trying to manage fish populations through a number of different mechanisms,” says Nairns.
“One of the mechanisms is we’re just using nets that are very small, very small mesh and then we’re using those nets to catch those fish.”
“We’re using nets which are small, we’re not doing a good job of managing the population.”
It’s all about keeping fish in the nets The big picture Nairnas view of the problem is quite simple.
“Our problem is there are too many fish, they’re just being caught,” he explains.
“You can see the effect of the fishing industry on the fish populations because there’s so much fishing, and we’ve seen a lot of species go extinct.”
He says that the biggest threat to the health of fish is the loss of habitat.
“As they become smaller and smaller and small, they just die out,” he adds.
“And when they’re gone, the ocean becomes more polluted.”
“You need to make sure that the fish are kept in the right areas, that they are in the correct places, and that they have a natural habitat.”
Nairnis says that even if the catch- and-release plan is working, there is still the issue of the fish in nets, the “big fish” that he refers to.
“The big fish in some places are the ones that are found in the largest numbers.”
Nairs worries that as the number of fish in a certain area grows, they may not survive, and in some areas, they will simply move out of the area.
“That will be a problem because the fish that we need will be there to be taken, and the ones in that area that are not going will just go and die,” he warns.
But with the help of a few volunteers, the Australian Fish Trade Union (AFTU) is trying to help to save the world fish.
AFTU has teamed up with scientists from the University of New South Wales, who are working to understand how fish stocks in the region are being impacted by the growing numbers of fish.
“I think we’re working with a lot more scientists than we’ve had in the past, to try and understand what is going on, what are the mechanisms, and how we can try to mitigate the impacts that are happening,” says Fergus Fowlan, a PhD candidate at the University.
“What we are trying to do is to try to work with the industry to come up with solutions that are sustainable and that don’t result in mass extinction of these species.”
He added that the AFTu had launched a campaign to “educate” fishermen about the benefits of using nets and nets-free practices.
“When people say ‘well, it can’t hurt me