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What is ghostfishing?

27 September 2011, 1:51 pm

derelict nets and traps

Ghostfishing is a term that describes what happens when derelict fishing gear 'continues to fish'.

Derelict fishing gear, sometimes referred to as "ghost gear," is any discarded, lost, or abandoned, fishing gear in the environment. This gear continues to fish and trap animals, entangle and potentially kill marine life, smother habitat, and act as a hazard to navigation. Derelict fishing gear, such as nets or traps and pots, is one of the main types of debris impacting the marine environment today.

The NOAA Marine Debris Program is working with fishermen to provide a place to dispose of fishing gear free of charge. Through the Fishing for Energy partnership, derelict gear is collected and recycled (e.g., metal) or used to create energy to power homes. In the first three years of this program, over one million pounds of derelict fishing gear was collected. The Fishing for Energy partnership includes NOAA, Covanta Energy Corporation, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and Schnitzer Steel.

For more information:

NOAA Marine Debris Program

10 Things You Need to Know About Marine Debris

Diving Deeper (audio podcast), Marine Debris (Feb. 23, 2009),

Original article: What is ghostfishing?