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Ghost Nets are Haunting our Oceans and It’s Terrifying

Worldly Wednesday

A GLOBAL ISSUE

Ghost nets are commercial fishing nets that have been abandoned or discarded in the ocean. These nets are a part of the insidious mess of ghost gear (all types of abandoned fishing gear) that contributes between 500,000 to 1,000,000 tonnes of fishing-related plastic to the ocean each year. That means almost half of the great pacific garbage patch is made up of discarded fishing gear. 

Hand with legend bracelet holding fishing net

 

LETHAL AND LONGTERM

Ghost nets are particularly dangerous because of their threats to marine life. Gill nets, the most common form of ghost net, can extend up to 2.5 km long and continue to ensnare any animal that gets in their way long after commercial use. Fish, sea turtles, porpoises, and sharks often swim into these nets unawares, only to be tangled and either suffocate or sustain life-threatening injuries. It’s estimated that over 650,00 marine mammals are trapped and killed by fishing gear in this way each year. 

Sea turtle trapped in blue fishing line
©Mohamed Solah

Worse, modern ghost nets are made of synthetics such as nylon: While fishing gear of the past used to be constructed of decomposable rope, the plastic nets of today will take up to 600 years to decay.

After trapped sea life pull the nets to the ocean floor, the bodies decompose and the net is re-released to the surface, starting the cycle once more. Nets that do break down simply disintegrate into smaller micro-plastics, which can be swallowed by fish and are toxic. 

A single ghost net has the power to harm marine life for decades. 

HABITAT LOSS

Ghost nets also cause signifiant damage to marine habitats. Nets that do sink  smother the habitats of organisms living on the ocean floor, such as worms, crustaceans, and sea plants. Further, nets may snag on coral reefs, which both ensnares the wildlife that lives there and destroys the coral. Nets that settle on the reefs prevent sunlight from reaching the area, slowing coral growth and attracting invasive species. The accelerated loss of these habitats can be catastrophic.

THE OCEAN BUNDLE

We've partnered with multiple organizations that help remove ghost gear from the ocean and help rehabilitate wildlife affected by its cruelty. Our ocean bundle offers the most impact by protecting sharks and sea turtles, while restoring depleted coral reefs.

 

 

 

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