Sea Change campaign: tackling ghost fishing gear

Our Sea Change campaign reduces the huge suffering caused by ‘ghost gear’ – abandoned fishing gear that turns oceans into death traps for sea animals

The ghost fishing gear crisis

Abandoned, lost and discarded nets, lines and traps are one of the biggest threats to our sea life. A staggering 640,000 tonnes of gear is left in our oceans each year. That gear traps, injures, mutilates and kills hundreds of thousands of whales, seals, turtles and birds annually. So, through our Sea Change campaign, we’re aiming to save one million animals by 2018.

By bringing together governments, businesses and fishing organisations, we can protect sea life and move towards a future free from the ghost fishing gear threat

Ghost fishing gear: our work

We’re working in three ways to protect animals from ghost fishing gear. We: 

  • Bring together partners to stop gear being abandoned
  • Support new ways to remove ghost gear from the seas
  • Help to replicate successful local sea animal rescue efforts on a global scale.

Buddy Up for Sea Change

This World Oceans Day we need your help. 

We are asking people with access to beaches and dive spots to get together between 5-8th June and report ghost gear sightings. Every piece of gear removed from our beaches and oceans could save an animal's life. 

Help us move the world to protect sea animals and register for the Buddy Up for Sea Change today.  

Global Ghost Gear Initiative

The Global Ghost Gear Initiative is a big part of our Sea Change campaign. By collaborating with a range of partners, we’re working to understand just how bad the problem of ghost fishing gear is – and to respond with solutions that work for animals and people. The seafood industry spends millions each year untangling nets from propellers, for example, so we’re developing solutions that protect animals and benefit businesses too.

Find out more about the Global Ghost Gear Initiative and how to get involved.

David Burdick / Marine Photobank

Tell the world:

Ghost fishing gear: in numbers

At least 136,000 seals, sea lions and large whales killed each year

Around 640,000 tonnes of gear discarded annually = 90,000 double decker buses

125 tonnes of fish caught = about 1 tonne of gear discarded

Learn more - view our Sea Change infographic

Left image: Michael Pitts/, bottom images (left to right): Michelle de Villiers, Mike Guy/Marine Photobank, NOAA