Ghost Fishing Gear Killing Marine Life

Dangling Danger: Ghost Fishing Gear Killing Marine Life

Ghost fishing gear, also known as “ghost nets” or “lost fishing gear”, are any type of abandoned, lost, or discarded fishing equipment that continues to trap and kill marine wildlife. Ghost Fishing Gear is a major problem for the world’s oceans as it can remain in the environment for many years before being removed. The impact on marine life from ghost fishing gear is severe as they become entangled in these nets and unable to escape leading to starvation, suffocation, lacerations and drowning. Ghost Fishing Gear affects all types of marine species including fishes, sea birds, turtles and other animals found in the ocean. As populations of many creatures continue to decline due to overfishing and habitat destruction this issue needs immediate attention if we want our oceans to remain healthy ecosystems with thriving biodiversity.

Ghost Fishing Gear Overview

Ghost Fishing Gear is a global problem that has been increasing in recent years due to overfishing and illegal fishing practices. It takes the form of nets, lines, traps and other discarded fishing equipment which continues to drift through the ocean trapping and killing marine wildlife. The most common types of ghost gear are gillnets, trawls, longlines and pots/traps. These items can remain in the environment for many years before being removed so their impact on marine life can be devastating. Ghost gear entangles fish, sea birds, turtles and other animals which leads to starvation, suffocation or lacerations as they struggle to escape.

The impacts of ghost fishing gear go beyond individual species; it also affects entire ecosystems by damaging coral reefs where these creatures live as well as disrupting food chains by removing predators from an area or allowing certain prey species to become too abundant without natural predation levels keeping them in check. This has serious implications for local fisheries who rely on healthy populations of fish for their livelihoods. In addition to this direct damage caused by ghost gear it also adds more plastic waste into our oceans leading further problems with pollution and ocean acidification which have wider reaching consequences for both human health and our planet’s climate system.

Fortunately there are ways we can help reduce this issue such as education programs teaching people about responsible disposal methods or enforcing regulations restricting certain types of fishing techniques known to produce large amounts of abandoned equipment like trawling operations often do . There are also various organizations around the world dedicated solely towards combating this problem through clean up operations seeking out lost nets and traps while encouraging sustainable fishing practices among commercial fishermen . With enough effort we can work together ensure that future generations will still have access enjoy all the wonders our ocean’s provide us today!

Main Sources of Ghost Fishing Gear

Commercial fisheries are one of the main sources of ghost fishing gear in the world’s oceans. This is due to improper disposal practices or accidental loss during operations such as trawling, longlining and gillnetting which all involve large amounts of heavy equipment that can easily be lost at sea. The amount of gear used by commercial fishermen dwarfs what recreational fishers use so it stands to reason that they would be responsible for a larger portion of this problem. It is estimated that up to 70% of all marine debris found in our seas comes from commercial fishing activities making them an important target for any efforts aimed at reducing ghost gear.

Recreational fishing also plays a part when it comes to Ghost Fishing Gear with many anglers unknowingly leaving behind their tackle after having finished their day on the water. This could range from small lures and hooks left tangled up in trees near shorelines or more serious cases like nets being abandoned offshore after getting snagged on something underwater. In some instances even entire boats have been known to sink out at sea leading further environmental damage beyond just the discarded gear itself .

Abandoned fish farming gear is another significant source contributing towards Ghost Fishing Gear and consists mainly of cages, traps, net pens and other items used by aquaculture operations which become lost over time due to storms or strong currents . These pieces may not seem as dangerous as actively deployed equipment but they can still entangle marine life just like any other type if left unchecked for too long . As these types farms become increasingly popular around the globe it will be important monitor them closely and take steps ensure none these materials go missing into our oceans where they continue cause harm wildlife indefinitely

Ghost Fishing Gear’s Impact on Marine Wildlife

The impact of Ghost Fishing Gear on fish populations is severe as they can become entangled in the nets and unable to escape leading to starvation, suffocation, lacerations and drowning. Fisheries around the world rely on healthy stocks of various species for their livelihoods so when certain creatures come under threat from these lost traps it has a direct effect on their business. As well as this there are other indirect effects such as disrupting food chains by removing predators from an area or allowing certain prey species to become too abundant without natural predation levels keeping them in check.

Marine mammals like dolphins, seals, whales and sea lions can also be affected by ghost gear if they become entangled in these items while swimming through the ocean. It is estimated that at least 300, 000 cetaceans (whales & dolphins) die each year due to entanglement with fishing equipment with some estimates being much higher . This type of mortality is often unreported making it difficult to measure actual numbers but what we do know suggests this problem requires immediate attention if we want our oceans’ ecosystems remain intact for many years come .

Other marine wildlife species are not immune from the dangers posed by Ghost Fishing Equipment either; turtles, seabirds and crustaceans all face serious risks losing their lives if caught up in any form of abandoned gear left floating around out at sea . Turtles have been particularly hard hit due to their slow rate growth meaning that even small amounts mortality could have long-term repercussions for future generations . Seabirds may also suffer similar fates getting tangled lines or becoming victims plastic ingestion after consuming small pieces debris ingested along with fish during feeding activities . Crustaceans like crabs may encounter danger more indirectly coming into contact discarded pots which contain bait meant attract them thus trapping inside until death eventually occurs .

Strategies for Reducing Ghost Fishing Gear

Educating recreational fishers about the dangers of Ghost Fishing Gear is an important step in reducing its prevalence. This could be done by running public awareness campaigns highlighting the impact this equipment has on marine life as well as providing guidelines for responsible disposal methods. Recreational anglers should be taught to use circle hooks which are less likely to get stuck in trees when casting and more effective at releasing fish if they become snagged during retrieval. They should also take extra care when using nets, trawls and longlines ensuring that they are properly secured so as not to come loose at sea or disposed of responsibly after each use .

Enforcing regulations on commercial fisheries is another way we can help reduce Ghost Fishing Gear levels in our oceans. Fisheries across the world often practice unsustainable techniques such as trawling which produce large amounts of lost gear from snags caused by rocks or other objects underwater. Regulations requiring these operations to operate within specific boundaries designed limit their impacts on areas known house sensitive species like coral reefs could help reduce amount discarded material entering our waters while still allowing them reap rewards provided by fishing activities .

Implementing recovery strategies for abandoned fishing gear is a further measure we can take tackle this problem head-on. Organizations around globe have been set up solely dedicate themselves towards removing ghost gear from our seas most notably The Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) who’s mission it is ‘to drive solutions prevent and remove lost & abandoned fishing gear worldwide’ Their efforts involve working with stakeholders ranging from governments, industry members right through local communities raise awareness about issue while promoting sustainable practices encourage good stewardship of ocean resources .


In conclusion, it is evident that Ghost Fishing Gear poses a serious threat to marine wildlife and urgent action needs to be taken to reduce its prevalence in our oceans. Governments, fisheries and anglers alike all have a role to play in reducing ghost gear levels through the implementation of regulations, education campaigns and recovery strategies. By working together we can help protect our seas from this silent killer and ensure healthy populations of fish and other ocean creatures for generations to come.

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