Abandoned, lost or other discarded fishing gear (ALDFG)

ALDFG otherwise known as ghost fishing gear includes any type of fishing gear that has been abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded into the environment. Nets, long lines, floats, ropes, fishing line, fish traps or any human-made contraptions designed to catch fish or marine organisms are considered capable of ghost fishing, continuing to catch wildlife when in the ocean, and without anyone profiting from the catches, they are affecting already depleted commercial fish stocks.

Caught fish die and in turn attract scavengers which will get caught in that same net, therefore creating a vicious circle. Many different types of animals are caught in ghost fishing gear from fish, lobsters, crabs, birds, seals, sea lions, dolphins and whales.

The majority of modern fishing gear is made from different forms of plastic, especially nylon. Because plastics can take hundreds of years to break down in the environment (becoming microplastics that continue to harm animals), ghost fishing gear made of plastic materials will continue to ‘fish’ as long as they are in the water. Each year the estimate is that over 640,000 tons of fishing gear is lost, abandoned or discarded in our oceans. Once an ignored issue, many countries, organizations, industries and governments are focusing on removing ghost gear, designing safer materials to make gear from, and preventing the gear from being lost or discarded in the first place.

Questions to think about:

  1. What is ghost gear?
  2. What materials are used to make fishing gear? How can we recycle it?
  3. What are the main impacts?
  4. How could humans prevent fishing gear from ending up in the oceans?
  5. What can people do when they see ghost gear?

Check out this video about ghost gear from the Voices of the Salish Sea Youth Video Challenge!

NEXT: Overfishing >