Does ghost fishing sound like a spooktacular good time? Watch this and think again!
Ghost fishing is actually a term that describes what happens when derelict fishing gear “continues to fish.” 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.
If you have been to MarineLab during stone crab or lobster season, you have probably noticed your captain weaving around the trap buoys (though students often think we are just trying to take them on a crazy roller coaster of a ride). If not aware, running over and cutting a trap line is easy enough to do. That trap then becomes a ghost trap. Anything caught in the trap will starve to death. The traps can also harm the sea floor- seagrass, hardbottom, coral reef- as the traps move around. No sea creature is safe- the marine debris affects dolphins, sea turtles, fish and invertebrates. As you can imagine, derelict fishing gear is a huge problem in South Florida.
A MarineLab instructor from years past, Casey Boleman Butler, now works for Florida Fish and Wildlife as a lobster biologist and spends much of her time researching the effects of ghost fishing and finding ways to eradicate the problem. Casey created this video to better explain the issue.