Sea Change: tackling ghost fishing gear

Our Sea Change campaign reduces the huge suffering caused by ‘ghost gear’ – abandoned fishing gear that turns oceans into death traps for sea animals

The ghost fishing gear crisis

Abandoned, lost and discarded nets, lines and traps are one of the biggest threats to our sea life. A staggering 640,000 tonnes of gear is left in our oceans each year. That gear traps, injures, mutilates and kills hundreds of thousands of whales, seals, turtles and birds annually. So, through our Sea Change campaign, we’re aiming to save one million animals by 2018.

By bringing together governments, businesses and fishing organisations, we can protect sea life and move towards a future free from the ghost fishing gear threat

Ghost fishing gear: our work

We’re working in three ways to protect animals from ghost fishing gear. We: 

  • Bring together partners to stop gear being abandoned
  • Support new ways to remove ghost gear from the seas
  • Help to replicate successful local sea animal rescue efforts on a global scale. 

Global Ghost Gear initiative

The Global Ghost Gear Initiative is a big part of our Sea Change campaign. By collaborating with a range of partners, we’re working to understand just how bad the problem of ghost fishing gear is – and to respond with solutions that work for animals and people. The seafood industry spends millions each year untangling nets from propellers, for example, so we’re developing solutions that protect animals and benefit businesses too.

Download our 'Sea Change executive summary' to learn how ghost gear is endangering our sea life

David Burdick / Marine Photobank

Tell the world:

Ghost fishing gear: in numbers

640,000 tonnes of gear discarded annually

136,000 seals, sea lions and large whales killed annually

300,000 discarded items found per sq km of ocean

125 tonnes of fish caught = 1 tonne of gear discarded

Michael Pitts/naturepl.com