The Danajon Bank in the central Philippines was once a geologic treasure chest brimming with marine life. It is the only double barrier reef in the Philippines and one of only six double barrier reefs in the world. Overfishing depleted stocks by 240 percent since 1960, according to one recent study, driving fishermen to more and more desperate measures in the hunt for dwindling numbers of fish.
As fish declined, the number of nets set in waters to catch them increased. It didn’t take long for discarded fishing nets to pile up by the ton on beaches and in gnarled root wells in the mangroves. Further offshore, these so-called ghostnets drifted untethered for years, snagging fish, sponges, crabs, and sea cucumbers—or settled on delicate reefs, smothering the corals.
Today, the same fisher...Read More