As I walk the beach, one of the most predominate items I find is fishing gear. Bits and pieces of fishing lines along with buoys, lobster traps, crab pots, fish hooks and lures. There are many problems that occur with lost fishing gear: marine animals ingest them, get entangled and die. 2.) Loss to the economy 3.) Loss of tourism 4.) Health issue 5.) Loss of Ocean habitat.
There are two names for lost fishing lines one is Ghost Fishing and the other is Ghost Nets. If you want to see the destruction of these lines, just go to google images and put in search animals caught in ghost nets. It is horrendous!
Ghost Fishing occurs when broken traps are lost at sea. Crab pots and lobster traps are the most common. When lost, they sink and continue to capture marine animals, who of course are trapped and then die. This is what the NOAA calls self baiting. For instance in Washington, there are an average of 14 million pounds of Dungeness Crabs harvested per year with 90,000 to 100,000 pots set in the waters.
It is said that 10% of the crab posts are lost. It has been reported that 300,000 “ghost” lobster pots can be lost to the seas each year in Maine alone. The NOAA also found 85,000 abandoned lobster and crab traps in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. In another heavy crab area Chesapeake Bay, more than 913,000 crabs were caught by derelict traps each year.
Ghost Nets are fishing lines from boats that get lost every year through out the world. Drifting with the currents, these nets, traps, hooks, lines kill and estimated 136,000 marine animals a year, 136,000 seals, sea lions, whales, porpoises, dolphins ingest and get tangled up in the Ghost Nets.
I Just Gotta Eco Ya
- 640,000 tons of fishing gear are estimated to be floating in our oceans.
- 57 tons of ghost nets nets end up in the 139,000-square-mile Northwestern Hawaiian Islands region every year. (Estimated) NOAA research boat picked up 57 tons of fishing nets and plastic garbage in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
- 32,000 pounds of fishing nets and 12,000 pounds of lobster and crab traps just along California’s coast have been picked up since 2002 by Captain Rex Levi.
- 48 to 65% of Gulf of Maine humpback whales have been entangled at least once in their lifetime. This is about half of the Humpback population.
- 70% of north Atlantic right whales, (critically endangered), have been entangled in ghost fishing gear.
- 1,500 marine animals—including seals, sea lions, dolphins, sharks, 22 species of fish, and 15 species of birds—were found dead among 870 derelict nets discovered in the Puget Sound over the course of one year.
- 1000+ Traps rescued from the Bay of Fundy since 2008
Unfortunately Fishing Lines would take hundreds of years to bio-degrade. So what do you do with it aside from arts and crafts? One company Bureo Skateboards has taken a huge step in recycling and reusing fishing lines… to make skateboards. The Minnow is the first endeavor it looks appropriately like a fish. Cool design. To top it off, they joined up with sustainable sunwear company Karun to make a line of sunglasses from fishing line.
The Net Postiva from Bureo has collected over 50 tons of fishing nets in 2015 from 16 communities. This has earned rewards and recognition from both the US Government and Chile. Kudos!
Another company Aquafil through their Econyl Line is reusing fishing nets and producing products such as carpets.
What can the average person do? If you are a fisher- person or know fisher people, encourage them to pick up their fishing gear. You can also contribute to various organizations that help with this problem.
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- Keep America Fishing
- Ghost Fishing
- Ghost Nets Australia
- Ocean Defenders Alliance
Recycling Fishing Line
- Ghost Fishing Gear
- Take Part
- The Dodo
- Mercury News
- World Animal Protection’s Sea Change campaign,
- Strategies to Solve the Ghost Nets
- Horrific Images of Ghost Nets and Animals