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What is ghost gear

Ghost gear: Educational guide and activity book

One of the biggest threats to our oceans is marine litter and in particular, ghost fishing gear. The term ghost gear refers to any fishing gear that has been abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded (for example nets, line, rope, traps, pots, and floats). Other common terms include abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) and derelict fishing gear (DFG). This marine pollution is some of the most harmful debris found in our oceans and can be fatal to fish, marine mammals and other marine life, poses a navigation hazard, and also breaks down into other forms of pollution such as micro-plastics.

The cause of ghost gear is primarily snagging, entanglement with other fishing gear, weather conditions and gear being incidentally cut by marine traffic crossing. Intentional discard by harvesters is less common and is usually caused by illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing where vessels may cut their gear loose to evade capture by authorities.

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Canada has recognized the threat that ghost gear poses in our waters and around the world, and we have identified the issue as one of national importance. We are committed to taking concrete actions to support ghost gear prevention, retrieval and responsible disposal by collaborating with many groups, such as:

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