What is ghostfishing?

Ghost traps are derelict fishing gear that is threatening fish, crab and lobster stocks along coastlines across the globe.

The ghost traps catches lobsters, crabs and fish that becomes bait for new animals. This is a environmental problem, and the scale is greater than anyone has dared to believe. Even in small coastal regions, thousands of traps are lost every year.

Plastic pollution

After years in saltwater, the traps also dissolves into micro plastic, which is another horrible type of environmental pollution.

What is being done to limit the problem?

All or the world scuba diving clubs have voluntary found and removed thousands of ghost traps, but they can’t keep up with the huge amount that gets lost. The problem gets bigger every year. There is no clear costings on how important this is for the fish stock or for fishing in general, but there is no doubt that the costs are huge.

Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries have operated with a yearly clean-up after lost fishing gear with a hired vessel patrolling the Norwegian coast. For more information, go to Clean Nordic Oceans. A partnership between Norway ( Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries ), Denmark ( DTU Aqua ) and Sweden ( Maritime and Water Authority ) – http://cnogear.org

Slettaa scuba diving club in Haugaland region (click here to visit them) reported that they found ghost traps at every 60 meters in an specific area along the norwegian coastline.

“Together with representatives from Nedstrand Boat Association and Alsaker Fjordbruk conducted Slettaa scuba diving club Saturday a big clean-up at the bay in Nedstrand. As many as 40 ghost traps and also more fishing gear was picked up – everything from cheap gear to expensive and complicated gear.”

There is also other scuba diving clubs that can document the problem with ghost traps, such as Søgne scuba diving club, Mandal scuba diving club, Ægir scuba diving club, and Havhesten underwater club.

ResqUnit utløst

The image above demonstrate the scenario where a ResqUnit is relased and make it possible to retrieve the lost trap.

avhesten undervannsklubb

Photo: Havhesten undervannsklubb, Stavanger/Norway

A global environmental problem
A rough estimate is that there are around 100,000 lobster and crab roe in Norway. Of these, about 10 percent are lost each year. Other areas, such as in some places in the Gulf of Mexico, are twice as large due to hurricane season.
Østfold Nature Conservation Association describes the problem
“Every year, about 2,200 lobster traps is lost only in the Agder region of Norway (Andersen 2016 et al). Over the years, this is a frightening number of traps. Similar figures are found all over the world, for example from the Virgin Islands, USA, where annual loss is calculated at 10% (Clark et al. 2012). The extent of the problem of ghost traps is frightening. During a clearing action in Chesapeake bay in the United States, 32,000 ghosttraps were cleaned up – they contained close to 32,000 crabs.”