Ghost gear is defined by the Global Ghost Gear Initiative as any fishing gear (these could be trawls, gill nets, longlines) that has been abandoned, lost, or otherwise left behind in the ocean. This gear is typically discarded for one of a few different reasons: getting lodged on something underwater, entanglements with other gear or vessels, severe weather events, and, less frequently, intentional discard when there are no other disposal options.

Every year, more than 640,000 metric tons of fishing gear are left in the ocean. And it’s the most directly harmful type of plastic pollution in the ocean. Discarded ghost gear unwittingly participates in ‘ghost fishing’ — or when abandoned fishing gear continues to trap and kill fish, crustaceans, and other sea creatures. More than 650,000 marine animals meet this demise every year.

The blame for ghost fishing falls squarely on disposal facilities, whether it be the lack of them in a certain area or the unaffordability of traveling to a site to dispose of nets.

 Plastic Buildup in Our Oceans