The Financial Times says ocean trawling generates a similar volume of carbon emissions to the global aviation industry, driven by activity in Chinese national waters, according to a paper published in the journal Nature.
Bottom trawling, a fishing method that involves dragging heavy nets across the seafloor, is responsible for between 0.6 and 1.5 gigatonnes of carbon emissions a year, compared with the aviation industry’s emissions of close to 1Gt, the researchers found.
The global aviation industry produces about 2 per cent of all human-induced carbon emissions. The majority of this pollution occurs in less than 4 per cent of the ocean, in the sovereign fishing waters of coastal nations known as “exclusive economic zones”, said the paper.
Trawling by boats in Chinese waters generates by far the greatest volume of emissions, or about 770m metric tonnes of CO2, while trawlers in the economic zones of Russia, then Italy followed by the UK caused the next most pollution, the researchers said. The UK emits roughly 370m metric tonnes of carbon a year.
IntraFish reports that study was funded by the National Geographic Society and the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.