What is ghost fishing?



Atlantic croaker trapped within a derelict crab pot

Atlantic croaker trapped within a derelict or “ghost” crab pot pulled from the York River in Virginia.

Derelict fishing gear, sometimes referred to as “ghost gear,” is any discarded, lost, or abandoned, fishing gear in the marine environment. This gear continues to fish and trap animals, entangle and potentially kill marine life, smother habitat, and act as a hazard to navigation. Derelict fishing gear, such as nets or traps and pots, is one of the main types of debris impacting the marine environment today.

Through the Fishing for Energy partnership, NOAA, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Covanta Energy Corporation, and Schnitzer Steel Industries, Inc. a cost-free solution is provided to fishermen to dispose of old, derelict or unusable fishing gear and to reduce the amount of derelict fishing gear in and around coastal waterways.

The NOAA Marine Debris Program is working with fishermen to provide a place to dispose of fishing gear free of charge and support new, innovative prevention strategies through technological advancements in fishing gear. These solutions will help prevent derelict fishing gear. The program has collected more than 4 million pounds of gear from 56 locations across the United States.


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