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Environment and Outdoors

Fishing 'Ghost Gear' Collected from Waters off Portland

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Kristian Whipple
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Courtesy: World Animal Protection
Lobstermen collect 'ghost' fishing gear off the coast of Portland Friday.

PORTLAND, Maine - It's called "ghost gear" - fishing gear that's accidently been lost or abandoned due to severe weather, strong currents or interactions with recreational boaters. The organization World Animal Protection says that around 640,000 tons of fishing gear is lost in the world's oceans every year.

Last Friday, World Animal Protection and the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation teamed up for a "gear grab" off the coast of Portland and collected 147 derelict traps and 1,000 pounds of rope and line.

World Animal Protection's Elizabeth Hogan took part in the clean-up, as did five local lobstermen who provided their boats, crews and time. Hogan says cleaning up the marine ecosystem is good for fish and other marine animals.

"Entanglement in derelict fishing gear is a severe problem," Hogan says. "Approximately 136,000 whales, porpoises, seals and sea lions get entangled in derelict gear every year."

Hogan says 44 of the traps could still be used and were returned to their owners. The rest of the collected material will be recycled.