Thursday, November 6, 2008

Ghost Gear

Derelict fishing gear, also known as "Ghost Gear" causes problems for both commercial and recreational ocean users, as well as marine mammals and wildlife on Northern Vancouver Island and the Central Coast. Ghost gear can be nets, lines, traps, and other commercial harvesting equipment that are lost or abandoned in our oceans.

"Synthetic nets and fishing line in use since the 1940s take decades, even hundreds of years, to decompose in our marine waters. Once abandoned, the gear continues to indiscriminately trap and/or entangle fish, birds and even marine mammals" []

Derelict fishing gear can also trap or entangle swimmers and divers, harm the marine ecosystem, and damage boat propellers and rudders.

The Northwest Straights Commission with its project partners have identified this problem in the Puget Sound area and currently operate a very effective identification, reporting, removal, and recycling/disposal program in the Northwest Washington area.

British Columbia currently does not have a derelict fishing gear removal program, but the BC Ministry of Environment has been looking to our neighbours to the South to learn from their experiences with derelict fishing gear removal.

An interesting article about the Washington program can be found at:

Have you experienced a problem with derelict fishing gear while living or working in the Northern Vancouver Island and Central Coast region? Tell us about it in the 'comments' section of this posting!


  1. I've seen ghost nets in the North Pacific where they tend to aggregate in these huge balls that often serve as floating fish habitat focal points.

    On the coast though, you don't often see too much gear other than illegal nets lost in the rivers.

    Oh, when I was a prawn fisherman in the SoG we would occasionally snag the odd line of ghost traps that had been lost in a storm.

  2. I've hooked onto ghost crab traps while trolling in McIntyre Bay near Tow Hill numerous times. I know they are crab traps because I got a few of them up to the boat. They were all rusty and jaggeddy, not easy to wrestle with while the boat is going ahead. I lost lead, wire and gear at various times. Even busted an auto pilot when it tried to steer the boat straight while one side of my troll gear was hung up on a *^%$&^% trap stuck in the sand.I stay away from there now, but the traps are all around Rose Spit and down in the Dogfish Banks now.

    One time I trolled up to a balled up herring net floating between Wheeteeam Bay and Rylatt Rock outside Aristazabal Island with all my gear in the water. I didn't realize what it was until I was almost on top of it. The net went in between my boat and my lines and never got hung up so I was really lucky that time. That was more than 25 years ago so who knows where that net is now, probably on the beach with all those dragger balls.