No to drone fishing, a new scourge of diversity

Fly, lure, bend and drone! We are not stopping progress, except that this new, highly fashionable practice makes it possible to reach marine species that marine fisheries could not reach. A real scourge to biodiversity to the point that South Africa has decided to ban it.

In mid-April, South Africa overcame a legal battle with drone manufacturers defending the practice of fishing with these small unmanned and remotely piloted aircraft. Nelson Mandela’s country wasn’t the only one to use this kind of grip. In Australia, as well as the United States and New Zealand, fishermen have been using drones since 2015, reveals International mail† By consulting YouTube videos, it is easy to discover that drone fishing is also practiced in Reunion…

What is this practice?

Thanks to drones, we can gain height and spot schools of fish further away from the coast. The machine rises and can travel up to 850 or even 950 meters. Thanks to this method, it is possible to cast the line, and therefore the bait, where it is needed, when it is needed, and especially in places that are not visible to the naked eye, since the angler is on the coast. For light fish, the drone may be able to lift the bitten line. For larger species, the line can be detached from the flying machine on simple command – the rod can be connected to the flying car while the angler decides to reel in his catch. Proponents of drone fishing claim the practice for its ability to catch larger specimens. In 2016, two Australian fishermen caused a stir on social networks with the capture of a 20kg drone-caught tuna.

Why is this new practice a danger?

While overfishing affects 21% of fish populations landed in France according to data published by Ifremer in 2020 – this concerns whiting and haddock in particular – drone fishing is opening the way to areas with little or no sense of fishing. Last fall, biologist Bruce Mann indicated at RFI that these places that fishermen couldn’t reach before the advent of drones are refuges for species, where they meet to eat. In this case, it is impossible for the fish to escape. Schools of fish also provide food sources for larger species such as sharks and dolphins, which in turn are threatened by this type of fishing.

In South Africa, the government believed that drone fishing was increasing pressure on certain endangered species, prompting the Environment Ministry to ban the practice. A decision that logically did not please the drone manufacturers, who did not hesitate to take legal action.

Please note that in France, drone fishing is difficult to practice as the regulations prohibit dropping a load. In addition, you are not allowed to fly your car over rivers, beaches and rivers in built-up areas. In addition, it is forbidden to use a drone over French maritime areas, be it in the Mediterranean, in the English Channel, over the Atlantic Ocean or on the Corsican coast. A simple look at the map from the Geoportail site will give you a better understanding of how drone fishing here is simply impossible to experiment with… And that’s a good thing!

(ETX Daily Up)

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