Evidence of the phantom menace

The impact of ghost gear in Cornwall

In partnership with Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust, we commissioned the first ever assessment on exactly how ghost fishing gear is affecting the coastline of Cornwall and posing a threat to marine life.

Highlights of this research explores the severity of the ghost gear problem by assessing:

  • The types of ghost gear present along the coastline of Cornwall.
  • The amount of ghost gear present (volume and number of items) along the coastline of Cornwall.
  • The interaction and entanglement risks posed to marine animals.

Abandoned and lost fishing gear, known as ghost gear, includes lines, nets, pots and ropes which are a huge threat to marine animals and coastal wildlife. Entanglement in ghost fishing gear causes huge suffering to animals and in many cases leads to a painful death.

A total of 4226 new ghost gear items were recorded by volunteers on land and by World Animal Protection funded boat-based surveys during the 12 month study period, amounting to 49,917 litres or 51 tonnes from 147 different locations. 30 tonnes can equate to the size of a 45ft sperm whale.

Read the case study on the impact of ghost fishing gear in Cornwall, UK.

Maps showing ghost gear around the coast of Cornwall

The images below show where entanglement has been spotted and the type of ghost gear found.

Infographic showing the locations around Cornwall where entanglement has been spotted

An infographic showing the locations around Cornwall where monofilament (gill) net has been found

An infographic showing various locations around Cornwall where pots and rope have been spotted

An infographic showing locations around Cornwall where trawl net and gear have been found

Want to know more about our sea change work?

Find out more about the impact of ghost gear and what we are doing to save marine animals:

When interaction and entanglement risks were combined 26% of all ghost gear items recorded posed a serious threat to marine animals.

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