Written by Beth Byrne
It’s a cold dark night, dim streaks of light flicker gently on your face. You move slowly and carefully through the silence. When all of a sudden you feel something slip around your neck. You struggle to free yourself, the more you move, the tighter it becomes. You can’t see what it is. You’re trapped and you’re alone.
Sounds like a nightmare doesn’t it?
Accidental capture and entanglement in fishing gear are the biggest threat to sea life, including whales, dolphins and porpoises worldwide, killing more than 300,000 cetaceans per year.
Ghost nests are fishing nests that have been lost, abandoned or discarded at sea. 640,000 tonnes of discarded fishing gear is left in the oceans each year. Oceanic currents move these nets long distances, making them difficult to track. These nets trap marine life, small entangled fish act as bait for larger marine predators, such as turtles, sharks, whales and dolphins. Which may themselves become entangled. If unnoticed, ghost nests smother coral reefs and cause further loss by spreading disease, parasites and invasive species.
Since the late 50’s when we began to use synthetic materials in fishing gear, thousands of kilometres of nets has been lost. Fishermen in the Baltic Sea lose 165km of nets each year in Swedish waters alone. Extrapolating this data to incorporate all the countries surrounding the Baltic Sea, this amounts to 1320 km per year, which is roughly the same length as the UK.