Ghost gear is a term used for fishing lines, nets, crab and shrimp pots and other commercial or recreational fishing equipment that has been lost, abandoned or discarded into the marine environment. This gear, which is no longer under control of the fishermen, has been known to continue to trap and kill fish, crustaceans, marine mammals, sea turtles and even seabirds, some of which are endangered species, referred to as ghost fishing. This ghost gear can also cause damage to underwater habitats and coral reefs, not to mention damage to other ships and vessels.
Lost fishing gear, or ‘ghost gear’ is among the greatest killers in our oceans, not only because of the massive amounts of debris but also because of the nature of the materials in the oceans. Literally tons of non-biodegradable nets and lines get lost each year can continue to “ghost” fish for decades, possibly even centuries.
There are a variety of programs working on prevention, removal and education to reduce ghost fishing. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a Marine Debris program while the Ocean Cleanup develops technologies to extract, prevent and intercept plastic pollution. The Ghost Fishing Foundation, which partners with groups like Healthy Seas and is part of the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI), began on local levels with cleanup and has expanded worldwide. The GGGI is the first initiative dedicated to tackling the problem of ghost gear at a global scale, physically removing nets, fishing gear and other marine debris while investigating and documenting local situations.
More details on IAGC's World Oceans Day celebrations, read HERE.