With the rise of the commercial fishing industry, the amount of fishing gear that has been lost in bodies of water has significantly increased over the past few years. This accumulation of abandoned gear is referred to as ghost gear, its name coming from the fact that it’s not being controlled by anyone and no one is benefitting.
The effects of ghost gear are huge. It’s the “most deadly form of marine debris for marine animals and marine life,” as it’s “designed to capture and kill marine animals, and if it’s lost it will continue to do that over time.” According to the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI), between 5-30% of harvestable fish stocks are affected by ghost gear.
This ghost gear is the result of fishers losing their equipment, caused by rough weather, gear getting snagged on underwater hazards, tangles with other fishing gear, and marine traffic driving over it.
Fortunately, the GGGI has been taking efforts to prevent, minimize, and remove ghost gear, by creating new technology to track and follow the gear. On a personal level, it’s important for the public to be aware of this problem, and use the GGGI Ghost Gear Reporter app to report any equipment they see in the ocean or on the beach.