Land mines of the sea: Cleaning up lost fishing gear

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

WARETOWN, N.J. (AP) — Abandoned or lost fishing gear continues to trap and kill marine life long after being forgotten, a phenomenon known as "ghost fishing."

The problem is worldwide, but so are efforts to combat it by retrieving as much lost gear as volunteers, anglers, companies and governments can get their hands on.

Pascal van Erp is a Dutch diver who was horrified by the amount of abandoned fishing equipment he encountered. He founded the Ghost Fishing Foundation to tackle what he calls an "enormous" problem.

Industry experts and scientists estimate that commercial fishermen lose about 10 percent of their traps per year to bad weather, currents or accidents.

Recommended solutions include degradable panels on traps that will quickly break down and allow marine life to escape.