GHOST FISHING & OCEAN WASTE
With buoys/ropes extending from the ocean floor to the ocean surface, traps are subject to harsh weather conditions associated with wild currents and storms. Conditions such as these result in 640,000 tons of ocean waste/plastics per year. Traps left behind on the ocean floor can continue to “ghost-fish” for years. As crustaceans become caught in ghost traps, they die and become bait for future crustaceans and other marine life (in a continuing cycle). As more and more lost traps accumulate on the ocean floor, ghost-fishing depletes lobster, crab, and other species populations, threatening the species, the livelihood of the fishers and the economic viability of their coastal communities around the world. At current levels, ghost fishing is estimated to kill the equivalent of approximately 4.5 percent of the annual harvest, thus reducing the available catch quotas to accommodate for harvest sustainability.
Additionally, an estimated 8 to 10 percent of fixed gear equipment is lost each year (worldwide) to propeller damage (propellers cut the buoys’ tethers making the traps irretrievable), storms and currents dragging the buoys to deeper waters where the buoys become submerged, and competitor sabotage. Fishers bear the costs of replacing their frequently lost gear and the opportunity costs associated with waiting for replacement government tags.