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Mosquito nets distributed to combat malaria are often used for fishing instead, impacting fish populations and human health in developing countries.
The first-ever global assessment of mosquito net fishing (MNF), published today in the journal PLOS ONE, reveals full scale of the practice and calls for collaborative solutions.
Impacts - MNF - Fish - Growth - Stock
One of the major impacts of MNF is that it traps young fish, which affects the growth of future stock. This can undermine fisheries management efforts and impact communities that depend on fish as their main source of food.
The researcher team, from Imperial College London, ZSL (Zoological Society of London), and Oxford University, surveyed expert witnesses living and working in malarial zones around the world to produce a rapid global assessment of the extent and characteristics of MNF.
Study - Evidence - Practice - Extent - World
The study found evidence that this practice occurs to some extent across most of the world's tropical latitudes, impacting a broad range of different marine and freshwater habitats and species.
Commenting on the study, lead author Rebecca Short from the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial and ZSL's Institute of Zoology said: "Recent decades have seen the broad distribution of free or subsidised mosquito nets, which has had a hugely important impact on reducing incidences of malaria in developing countries.
Evidence - Nets - Fishing - Study - Attempt
"While anecdotal evidence has long existed about these mosquito nets often being diverted into artisanal fishing, our study represents the first concerted attempt to gauge the scale and extent of this problem worldwide.
"We are wholly supportive of the efforts of the healthcare community to tackle this disease, which is so damaging to many people's lives, but there needs to be further research into the potential impacts of this unintended consequence."
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