Untangling the Threads: A Deep Dive into Trawl Ropes and Nets

Trawl Ropes and Nets: The Importance of Rope and Net Visibility in Sustainable Fisheries

The Issue of Ghost Gear

Discarded trawl ropes and nets left behind at sea pose a serious threat to marine life. This so-called "ghost gear" continues to fish even after it has been abandoned or lost by commercial fishing vessels. Without a crew to selectively target and release non-target species, ghost gear indiscriminately traps marine animals such as whales, dolphins, seals, turtles, and birds in its meshes and lines. Over time, the nets and ropes can become nearly invisible as algae and other marine growth disguises them on the seafloor. However, they remain deadly, lurking entanglement hazards.

The Far-Reaching Impacts

Studies have found that ghost gear makes up approximately 10% of all plastic pollution in our oceans. Once floating freely, it can be transported by ocean currents over vast distances, spreading its effects far beyond where it was initially discarded or lost. Entanglement in ghost gear causes injury and slow, painful deaths by starvation, infection or drowning for millions of marine animals worldwide every year. It also negatively impacts populations of at-risk species already facing threats from climate change, habitat loss, pollution and other human impacts. Additionally, derelict fishing nets become ecological ghost traps that indiscriminately catch commercially valuable fish long after being lost or abandoned, impacting fisheries sustainability and industry livelihoods.

Solutions Through International Collaboration

Given its global scale and transboundary nature, addressing the problem of ghost gear requires coordinated international solutions. Several treaties and agreements have provisions to reduce marine debris and protect species from entanglement hazards. For example, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization's Agreement on Port State Measures seeks to curb illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing by controlling access to ports by foreign