More Info

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Ghost net

Ghost nets are fishing nets that have been left or lost in the ocean by fishermen.

These nets, often nearly invisible in the dim light, can be left tangled on a rocky reef or drifting in the open sea. Maybe they were lost in a storm, or simply forgotten. They can entangle fish, dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, dugongs, crocodiles, seabirds, crabs, and other creatures, including the occasional human diver.

Acting as designed, the nets restrict movement, causing starvation, laceration and infection, and — in those that need to return to the surface to breathe — suffocation.


Some commercial fisherman use gillnets. These are anchored to the sea floor with floatation buoys along one edge. In this way they can form a vertical wall hundreds of metres long, where any fish within a certain size range can be caught. Normally these nets are collected by fisherman and the catch removed. However if this is not done the net can continue to catch fish until the weight of the catch exceeds the buoyancy of the floats. The net then sinks, and the fish are devoured by bottom-dwelling crustaceans and other fish. Then the floats pull the net up again and the cycle continues. Given the high-quality synthetics that are used today, the cycle can continue for a long time.

The problem is not just nets; old fashioned crab pots, without the required "rot-out panel", also sit on the bottom, where they become self-baiting traps that go on catching crabs year after year. Even balled-up fishing line can be deadly for a variety of creatures, including birds and marine mammals. Over time the nets become more and more tangled. In general, fish are less likely to be trapped in gear that has been down a long time.

Some claim that ghost nets have a negligible impact upon marine ecosystems, as the catch of the ghost net is simply eaten by other marine life anyway.

The French government offered a reward for ghost nets handed in to local coastguards along sections of the Normandy coast between 1980 and 1981. The project was abandoned when people vandalised nets to claim rewards, without retrieving anything at all from the shoreline or ocean.

1 comment:

Nandu Green said...

I found your blog informative and full of information we should all be aware of - thank you for your words and commitment to protecting the planet. For more information on how plastic pollutes our environment, please read my article below.

Keep up the good work,