Bottom Trawling’s Carbon Release

Beam trawlers’ heavy chains are dragged along the seabed, releasing carbon into the seawater. Photograph: aphperspective/Alamy

One of the many things that humans have been doing for a long time that are going to have to change:

Bottom trawling releases as much carbon as air travel, landmark study finds

Dragging heavy nets across seabed disturbs marine sediments, world’s largest carbon sink, scientists report

Fishing boats that trawl the ocean floor release as much carbon dioxide as the entire aviation industry, according to a groundbreaking study.

Bottom trawling, a widespread practice in which heavy nets are dragged along the seabed, pumps out 1 gigaton of carbon every year, says the study written by 26 marine biologists, climate experts and economists and published in Nature on Wednesday.

The carbon is released from the seabed sediment into the water, and can increase ocean acidification, as well as adversely affecting productivity and biodiversity, the study said. Marine sediments are the largest pool of carbon storage in the world.

The report – Protecting the global ocean for biodiversity, food and climate – is the first study to show the climate impacts of trawling globally. It also provides a blueprint outlining which areas of the ocean should be protected to safeguard marine life, boost seafood production and reduce climate emissions.

Only 7% of the ocean is under some kind of protection. The scientists argue that, by identifying strategic areas for stewardship – for example, regions with large-scale industrial fishing and major economic exclusion zones or marine territories – nations could reap “significant benefits” for climate, food and biodiversity. Protecting “strategic” ocean areas could produce 8m tonnes of seafood, they say…

Read the whole article here.

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