Help keep One Green Planet free and independent! Together we can ensure our platform remains a hub for empowering ideas committed to fighting for a sustainable, healthy, and compassionate world. Please support us in keeping our mission strong.

New research from the Dutch non-profit The Ocean Cleanup shows just how fishing gear has become the deadliest marine plastic.

Source: The Ocean Cleanup/YouTube

The Ocean Cleanup used a bloating system that rakes in plastic from the great Pacific garbage patch to collect samples. Laurent Lebreton, head of research at the Ocean Cleanup, said that most of the waste can be traced back to five industrialized fishing nations: the US, Japan, South Korea, China, and Taiwan.

This waste from the fishing industry, known as abandoned, lost, or discarded fishing gear (ALDFG), is made up of fishing nets, ropes, lines, traps, and other fishing gear that is most often made of durable plastic. Although it is incredibly difficult to measure, they believe that between 500,000 and 1m tons of ALDFG end up in the oceans every year.

The World Wide Fund for Nature says that fishing waste is the deadliest form of marine plastic, The Guardian reported. They say that marine ALDFG affects 66 percent of marine animals, including all sea turtle species and 50 percent of seabirds by entangling or trapping the animals. These animals can die from suffocation, drowning, or starvation.

The Global Ghost Gear Initiative, another name for ALDFG, is helping bring attention to the issue and gather data to help governments and organizations know how to solve the problem. In the next 5 or 10 years, the Guardian reported that they hope to have a comprehensive picture of the problem.

Source: All-Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance/YouTube

The waste that we dump into the planet’s oceans and waterways (an estimated 8.8 million tons per year, to be exact!) has serious implications for marine animals. Around 700 marine species have been put at risk of extinction because of the sheer volumes of plastic that they end up ingesting or becoming entangled in. Even enormous sea animals such as Sei whales and sperm whales have died because of our trash.

Every year, around 300,000 whales, dolphins, and porpoises become fatally entangled in fishing gear, while about 250,000 sea turtles are accidentally captured, killed, or injured by fishermen. Other animals that are frequently caught as bycatch include sharks (400,000 per year, to be exact), stingrays, and seals.

To learn more about The Ocean Cleanup and The Global Ghost Gear Initiative, check out their websites! While you’re at it, sign this petition to make out seas safer for the world’s marine life.

Related Content:

Easy Ways to Help the Planet:

  • Eat Less Meat: Download Food Monster, the largest plant-based Recipe app on the App Store to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy. You can also buy a hard or soft copy of our favorite vegan cookbooks.
  • Reduce Your Fast Fashion Footprint: Take the initiative by standing up against fast fashion Pollution and supporting sustainable and circular brands like Tiny Rescue that are raising awareness around important issues through recycled zero-waste clothing designed to be returned and remade over and over again.
  • Support Independent Media: Being publicly funded gives us a greater chance to continue providing high-quality content. Please consider supporting us by donating!
  • Sign a Petition: Your voice matters! Help turn petitions into victories by signing the latest list of must-sign petitions to help people, animals, and the planet.
  • Stay Informed: Keep up with the latest news and essential stories involving animals, the environment, sustainable living, food, health, and human interest topics by subscribing to our newsletter!
  • Do What You Can: Reduce waste, plant trees, eat local, travel responsibly, reuse stuff, say no to single-use plastics, recycle, vote smart, switch to cold water laundry, divest from fossil fuels, save water, shop wisely, Donate if you can, grow your own food, volunteer, conserve energy, compost, and don’t forget about the microplastics and microbeads lurking in common household and personal care products!