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Is Trawling Productive?

Yes, but you’ll be surprised why.

Trawling, the act of dragging a net along the floor of an ocean or lake, has long been considered by angers as an effective means for catching fish. After all, since trawl nets more or less rake the bottom of a seabed, churning up fish habitats and capturing a slew of specimens in the process, they are the perfect method for career fishermen to catch bulk numbers of fish. Still, some anglers and environmentalists have long considered the costs of trawling to match or outweigh the benefits. For years, the belief about trawling has been that it destroys oceanic habitats and can easily lead to the widespread disruption or devastation of sea life. As good as trawling is for catching fish, many anglers have opted for the traditional rod-and-reel fishing due to its alleged dangers.

Now, Dutch scientists are changing their minds about trawling. According to a recent study called “When does fishing lead to more fish?”, trawling can actually breed more sustainable fish environments and could, in a weird way, be the key for turning fish population decline back around. If that’s the case, then the European Union may want to take a few more moments in deciding whether or not to ban deep-sea trawling in an effort to curb fish endangerment.

So what’s the explanation behind the trawling-benefits-fish argument? Apparently, trawling can, under certain circumstances, help to boost levels of fish-friendly prey, which can in turn lead to burgeoning fish populations. Fish prey, which can range from large crabs to small shrimp to a variety of mollusks or worms, is impacted by trawling as well. The bigger organisms – crabs and shrimp especially – are often caught in trawling nets along with predatory fish, while the smaller organisms – the worms and mollusks – slip through the nets to reproduce.

This process functions as a sort of natural selection, allowing smaller prey to reproduce in greater numbers than any other oceanic species and in turn supplying the remaining fish with a veritable buffet of feeding options. A greater supply of food then leads to an explosion in fish proliferation and population – the reason that some scientists and fishermen are arguing vehemently for the continued use of trawling nets. In other words, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?

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Is Trawling Productive?