This is a guest blog by Andaya V, a grade 5 student who is passionate about all creatures but especially penguins.
Ghost nets trap and kill more than 3.5 million animals a year. Each and every bit of ghost gear was left, lost, or abandoned, by fishers. We're talking everything; we're talking crab pots, fishing lines, gigantic trawls, gill nets that form walls of death stretching hundreds to thousands of metres. Today I will tell you that ghost nets are a big waste, explain the damage to animals, and try to persuade you to help.
We can find ghost gear left, tangled on a rocky reef or drifting out in to the blue. All the ghost nets - gear that covers the seas in an invisible veil - end up emptying the oceans. Ghost gear is a waste because we never eat what's in them! Each year, at least 640 million kgs of nets and other fishing gear go overboard and never come back. Each and every one of those gear litters the sea bottom like an always-hungry monster, one that keeps catching fish and other animals for years. Depending on the species, and the type of net, ghost nets catch anywhere from 5% to 30% of the number of species caught by fishers' nets. Each week nearly 25 seals, porpoises and other marine mammals die in abandoned nets.
The damage to the animals is outrageous. Small fish are usually the first to become trapped in their mesh. They then attract larger species and other marine predators including sharks, dolphins, sea turtles and even marine birds. Each animal caught in ghost gear will die of starvation or infection. Or in the case of air breathing animals like mammals and turtles, will die of lack of oxygen and drown.
Guys! We can help END this craziness!! First, let's talk about ghost fishing and make other people want to help, too. Then let's make it our mission to remove at least one piece of ghost gear from the ocean. Teams of volunteer divers in 15 countries around the world have formed a group called Ghost Fishing, which often works in partnership with governments. Just one program has already collected more than one million kilograms of gear. Best of all, we can ask our friends and family to buy stuff made from recycled fishing gear, whether it's baskets, bags or carpet tile. We will be part of saving our marine animals! And it will be one step farther from these animals going extinct!
In conclusion, ghost nets are an appalling waste and can kill or severely damage animals, but there are ways we can stop this problem! But we need to take action NOW, or else most of the animals we eat or love will have vanished, never to return!