Ghost nets drift along in the ocean current leading to the deaths of many animals including turtles, dolphins, and whales. Once ensnared, they become completely trapped, unable to move or eat. Some are strangled while others starve to death. Discarded fishing gear is eventually washed ashore littering the beaches. While some nets are lost accidentally, it is known that some are deliberately disposed of and any damaged parts simply cut away.
A ghost net study is underway – supervised by Hawaii Pacific University’s Centre for Marine Debris Research. The aim is to identify the origins of some nets which is a difficult task although this is not to accuse but rather to find new ways to mitigate the complexities of this problem. During the research process, they review approximately 70 aspects per net confirming how many strands, whether braided or twisted, the diameter or mesh size. Once identified, the information is added to a database so to identify patterns which can indicate manufacturers, nations or, even fisheries.