Ghost Gear Report - 15

5.7% OF ALL
FISHING NETS,
8.6% OF TRAPS
AND POTS, AND
29% OF ALL
FISHING LINES
USED GLOBALLY
ARE ABANDONED,
LOST OR
DISCARDED.

A recent study of global rates of fishing gear loss developed from mostly Northern hemisphere sources, estimated that 5.7% of all fishing nets, 8.6% of traps and pots, and 29%
of all fishing lines used globally are abandoned, lost or discarded into the environment34.
Attempting a similar compilation of available information from multiple sources, Lively
and Good (2018)35 estimate that one set of traps and pots is lost for every 14 used,
sometimes even one set out of two used. Likewise, they estimated that each boat using
gillnets could be losing between 3 and 7 panels on average each year. In regions such as
the coastal waters of South Korea, where gillnets are highly popular this could be even
higher, resulting in 38,535 tonnes of lost gillnets per year36,37. This gear loss adds to the
growing mass of plastics entering our ocean every year. Indeed, in the North Pacific
Gyre, nets, lines and ropes from fishing and shipping make up 46% of the 45,000129,000 tonnes of plastic floating in this area38.

GHOST FISHING AND ITS IMPACT ON
ENDANGERED MARINE LIFE, ECOSYSTEMS
AND COMMERCIALLY VALUABLE SPECIES
Ghost gear is the most deadly form of marine plastic debris39. Mammals, birds,
and reptiles drown regularly in ghost gear. Fish and invertebrates become trapped,
injured, and prey for other animals, which may also become trapped. 'Ghost fishing' is
the term given to the continued fishing caused by fishing gear that has been abandoned,
lost or discarded40. This deadly pattern of ghost fishing continues until the gear loses its
integrity41. This usually occurs within the first year after loss, but there are observed cases of ghost gear continuing to capture and kill animals decades after being lost42,43,44,45.
It is a slow and painful death for some animals. For sharks and rays, for example,
major concerns have been raised from an animal welfare perspective46.

OVER 5,400
ANIMALS FROM
40 SPECIES WERE
REPORTED BEING
ENTANGLED IN
GHOST GEAR

While a lot of fishing gear is designed to be selective to the target species,
it can capture animals indiscriminately after being lost. In the Salish Sea, it's
been documented that more than 260 unique species, including marine mammals,
birds, protected fish, and commercially valuable invertebrates have been observed to
be entangled and killed in lost salmon gillnets. During the net recoveries in the Salish
Sea, the animals observed in removed nets reflect just a snapshot of the ghost fishing
mortality caused by these nets. Hardesty et al. (2015)47 developed a model to project the
long-term ghost fishing impacts of nets removed from the Salish Sea and estimated that
the 4,500 nets removed from 2002-2009 likely killed more than 2.5 million marine invertebrates; 800,000 fish and 20,000 seabirds. Stelfox et al. (2016)48 compiled information documenting that over 5,400 animals from 40 different species of marine
mammals, reptiles and elasmobranchs (sharks and rays) were recorded as
being entangled in ghost gear.
Lead pollution from sink lines used in gillnets that end up abandoned in the ocean is
also an important concern for both marine life and their environment. One study found
lead contamination in a harbor seal that ingested a fishing sinker, demonstrating an
additional way in which ghost gear affects marine species health49.
Lost fishing gear also damages important nearshore and marine habitats.
Impacts of ghost gear vary widely from place to place, but often affect the sensitive nearshore areas, seagrass beds, macroalgae, coral reefs, and mangroves that are so important
as nursery areas for numerous species50. Lost fishing gear breaks corals, scours bottom
habitat of sessile animals, damages vegetation, builds up sediment, and smothers and
impedes access to certain habitats51,52,53,54. Increasing exploration of deep sea habitats is
documenting ghost gear accumulations in those remote locations as well55,56,57,58,59.

15



Ghost Gear Report

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Ghost Gear Report

Contents
Ghost Gear Report - 1
Ghost Gear Report - 2
Ghost Gear Report - Contents
Ghost Gear Report - 4
Ghost Gear Report - 5
Ghost Gear Report - 6
Ghost Gear Report - 7
Ghost Gear Report - 8
Ghost Gear Report - 9
Ghost Gear Report - 10
Ghost Gear Report - 11
Ghost Gear Report - 12
Ghost Gear Report - 13
Ghost Gear Report - 14
Ghost Gear Report - 15
Ghost Gear Report - 16
Ghost Gear Report - 17
Ghost Gear Report - 18
Ghost Gear Report - 19
Ghost Gear Report - 20
Ghost Gear Report - 21
Ghost Gear Report - 22
Ghost Gear Report - 23
Ghost Gear Report - 24
Ghost Gear Report - 25
Ghost Gear Report - 26
Ghost Gear Report - 27
Ghost Gear Report - 28
Ghost Gear Report - 29
Ghost Gear Report - 30
Ghost Gear Report - 31
Ghost Gear Report - 32
Ghost Gear Report - 33
Ghost Gear Report - 34
Ghost Gear Report - 35
Ghost Gear Report - 36
Ghost Gear Report - 37
Ghost Gear Report - 38
Ghost Gear Report - 39
Ghost Gear Report - 40
Ghost Gear Report - 41
Ghost Gear Report - 42
Ghost Gear Report - 43
Ghost Gear Report - 44
Ghost Gear Report - 45
Ghost Gear Report - 46
Ghost Gear Report - 47
Ghost Gear Report - 48
Ghost Gear Report - 49
Ghost Gear Report - 50
Ghost Gear Report - 51
Ghost Gear Report - 52
Ghost Gear Report - 53
Ghost Gear Report - 54
Ghost Gear Report - 55
Ghost Gear Report - 56
Ghost Gear Report - 57
Ghost Gear Report - 58
Ghost Gear Report - 59
Ghost Gear Report - 60
Ghost Gear Report - 61
Ghost Gear Report - 62
Ghost Gear Report - 63
Ghost Gear Report - 64
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http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/wwfintl/annualreview2019
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http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/wwfintl/dalbergreport2013-de
http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/wwfintl/dalbergreport2013-fr
http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/wwfintl/dalbergreport2013
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