Posted on 23 September 2021
Ghost gear is the most deadly form of marine plastic debris.
Nearly 90% of the world’s marine fish stocks are now fully exploited, overexploited or depleted, while more than 3 billion people depend on fish as a major source of protein1. With a rising population, there is an increased demand for fish, and therefore the use of fishing gear.
Gillnets, traps and pots, fish aggregation devices, and other gear types are compounding the problem of plastics in our ocean as they end up abandoned, lost or discarded. Ghost gear can continue to catch target and non-target species unselectively for years, potentially decimating important food resources as well as endangered species, such as marine mammals, seabirds, and turtles. It is the most deadly form of marine plastic debris which damages vital ocean habitats, and poses dangers to navigation and livelihoods.
While the unattended consequences of plastic use are finally beginning to receive the attention they warrant, the impacts of ghost gear are less seen and understood. This report demonstrates the scale of the problem at hand, as well as the gaps in existing legal frameworks, highlighting the need for national and international preventive policies and practices. WWF urges governments, fishing gear producers and designers, fishers, and the general public to take decisive action and stop ghost gear from drowning the ocean we all depend on.