Ghost nets are commercial fishing nets which have been lost or abandoned by a fishing vessel and remain in the sea. Every year thousands of whales, dolphins and porpoise are killed by ghost fishing gear and this week, thanks to the quick thinking crew of a whale watching tour who were hoping to see some humpback whales, nearly 1,000 pounds of abandoned fishing net was pulled from waters off the coast of Maui, Hawaii. Sadly however, while crews were preparing the net for disposal, a dead green sea turtle was discovered caught inside.
Ghost fishing gear is a serious issue globally, with more and more marine species becoming entangled, often dying slow, painful deaths. What happens when a whale, dolphin or porpoise becomes entangled is grim and with 640,000 tonnes of discarded fishing gear left or lost in the ocean each year, it poses a significant entanglement threat to marine wildlife. Due to the unreported nature of lost/discarded nets, it is very difficult to come to any conclusions about how many floating , lost nets there are in the world’s seas and oceans, or calculate how many fish/marine animals may be killed each year by these deadly nets.