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Ghost Fishing: Derelict Gear

tangled gillnet left as derelict gearGhost fishing occurs when nets, ropes, traps and other gear are lost or drift out to sea. This gear continues to kill animals and damage habitat long after fishermen have moved on. Derelict gear kills, entangles, and injures marine life at an alarming rate. No one knows how many nets are floating along the seafloor around the world.

Tens of thousands of pots are estimated lost, annually, in places like the Gulf of Mexico, Chesapeake Bay, and the Bering Sea. Thousands of young fish die each year in traps and pots.

Researchers have calculated that one derelict gillnet in Puget Sound could entangle over 4,000 crabs throughout its ghost fishing lifespan, totaling almost $20,000 in lost revenue. Dolphins, sea turtles and sharks can easily become entangled in old gillnets.

Derelict gear continues to haunt the ocean depths, ghost fishing into eternity.