IAGC Marine Debris & Ghost Net Initiative
Marine Debris in our Oceans
There are roughly 315 BILLION pounds of plastic in our oceans today. This plastic pollution impacts the environment, animals, damages habitats and causes economic loss.
The Ghost Gear Problem
Lost fishing gear, or ‘ghost gear’ is among the greatest killers in our oceans. Fishing lines, nets, crab and shrimp pots and other commercial and recreational fishing equipment that has been lost, abandoned or discarded into the marine environment, continue to trap and kill fish, crustaceans, marine mammals, sea turtles and even seabirds, some of which are endangered species continue to trap and kill fish, crustaceans, marine mammals, sea turtles and even seabirds, some of which are
endangered species. This ghost gear can also cause damage to underwater habitats and coral reefs, not to mention damage to other ships and vessels. Literally tons of non-biodegradable nets and lines get lost each year can continue to “ghost” fish for decades, possibly even centuries.
- Estimated 640,000 tons of abandoned nets are spread across the world’s oceans (Food and Agriculture Organization and the UNEP)
- These nets comprise up to 10 percent of oceanic litter.
- In the Puget Sound alone, derelict fishing gear kills over a half million sea-creatures each year (estimate by Northwest Straits Marine Conservation Initiative).
- Plastics can remain in the marine environment for 600 years, with further damage done by animals eating the plastics and chemicals leaching into the water as they break down.
Effects on the Geophysical Industry
Marine debris, including active or lost fishing gear, is a constant fact of life for the marine geophysical operator. Every year streamers, propellers, thrusters and other equipment are lost or damaged due to encounters with marine debris. Marine life such as turtles, birds, mammals and fish may also be encountered in the debris.
Marine debris and animal entanglement is also an international environmental issue in which IAGC members play an important role. By removing and disposing of debris encountered during operations, installing turtle guards, carrying out watches for marine mammals and other preventative measures and reporting these activities, crews are working daily to clean up our marine environment.
IAGC's Marine Debris and Ghost Net Initiative
The IAGC Debris and Ghost Net Initiative is simple. Seismic crews are asked to take some pictures when encountering entangled wildlife or delivering fishing net to the dock at the end of a rotation at sea, and then remember to pass it along to us for inclusion in our growing archive of data. In return we promise an annual report that will encompass the magnitude of good done by environmental stewards in the geophysical industry. Feel free to utilize the reporting form below, or simply email details and pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you have a story or images of a bird or marine mammal that your crew aided or saved from storms, marine debris or other ghost gear in the oceans? Share that information with us now, so we can share with others!
Report Debris & Ghost Gear
Take some pictures when you find entangled turtles or deliver several tons of fishing net to the dock at the end of a rotation at sea, and then remember to pass it along to us for inclusion in our growing archive of data.