The Spooky Truth About Ghost Fishing

Posted Tue, 10/30/2018 - 08:48


Ghost fishing. That phrase makes you think about a spectral figure sitting on the banks of a river with a glowing fishing pole. Or perhaps you imagine a team of paranormal investigators trying to lure a ghost out into the open. The truth is not so supernatural, but just as scary.   

Occasionally fishing nets are cut loose, crab traps can come free from their moorings, and sometimes gear is even abandoned by fishers. All this stuff then is free to roam the ocean or Great Lakes on currents. Although there is no one on the other end, the gear still does what it is meant to do, fish.  

Large next lurking behind a diver.
This net weighs close to 1.5 tons! (Photo credit: NOAA)

Marine life becomes entangled.  

Turtle trapped in a net.
This turtle was freed by NOAA divers, but how many do not escape? (Photo Credit: NOAA)

Traps continue to trap.  

Fish caught in a derelict trap.
Even in the Great Lakes, ghost gear can trap more than its meant to. (Photo Credit: NOAA)

Even boat propellers can become caught in this dangerous debris.  

Large net caught on a boat propeller.
Animals aren't the only ones who get caught. (Photo Credit: NOAA)


But unlike the classic horror movie villains, this menace is easily defeatable. Here at the Marine Debris Program, we support efforts to teach people about the problem, provide a place to dispose of old nets, and actually remove this ghost gear from the water. In fact, if you find yourself in Florida this spooky season, you can participate in one of these Ghost Trap Rodeo removal events, funded through a Marine Debris Program removal grant. There won’t be any lassoing of apparitions, but there will be a lot of creative efforts to make the ocean a better place.  

The Spooky Truth About Ghost Fishing

Posted Tue, 10/30/2018 - 08:48

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