Remove ‘Ghost Fishing’ Nets that Threaten Marine Life

A turtle trapped in a ghost net-by-Cory

Target: Acting Administrator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan

Goal: Remove ‘Ghost Fishing’ Nets that entangle marine life and cause the death of these animals.

Beneath the surface of the ocean lie death traps that end marine life and are likely to continue causing deaths unless action is taken. Several nets have sunk with ships, while others have been abandoned by fishermen. The lost or abandoned nets contribute to what is referred to as ‘ghost fishing,’ where marine animals are trapped and killed.

Most people do not realize what is happening under the oceans and seas. These nets are indiscriminately fishing and killing everything from mammals, crustaceans, fish, sea lions and dolphins. According to an animal protection group, it is estimated that around 250,000 nets are discarded in the Northeast Atlantic alone. The nets can reach up to 10,000 pounds and depending on the material, can trap these creatures from 40 to 600 years.

Studies have revealed that over 90% of species caught with these nets are of commercial value, an indicator that these nets result in loss of revenue for fishermen. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) also adds that these nets drag across the floor of the ocean, destroying habitats like coral reefs. The nets have become a growing problem since they choke the environment and reduce the profits for fishermen by killing their stock while posing a danger to divers.

One way of removing these nets would be implementing a mandatory reporting rule for boat captains, fishermen or divers who spot them. This can enable divers to work on removing the nets as quickly as possible. NOAA can also work to reduce disposal costs since most fishermen abandon the nets to avoid high costs of disposal.

Recently, reports indicate that British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) has received calls about seals that are entangled in lost fishing gear. Such animals are entangled by fishing gear that is made out of plastic that remains in the oceans for years, accumulating with time. The problem needs to be identified and tackled as fast as possible to save marine life.


Dear Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan,

Across the oceans, a silent menace is threatening a number of marine species. ‘Ghost fishing’ nets are often unseen but wreak havoc on marine life. These abandoned, lost or discarded fishing nets drift in ocean currents, harm, ensnare and kill marine animals while also trapping other nets, plastic, and organic debris.

Once marine animals are caught, they are unable to break free from the mesh, and slowly drown or starve to death. These nets are often made of a durable plastic material that is persistent in water and can stay for a very long time. Your agency should implement policies to report ghost nets as a strategy of rescuing entangled wildlife. I believe you will take action towards this positive cause.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Cory

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One Comment

  1. michael guest says:

    These are haunted things. And they shouldn’t be left far below the ocean. Get them removed now.

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