Fishing gear entanglement happens when fishing gear like nets and longlines gets caught around the limbs or body of an animal, causing serious injury or death. This phenomena kills hundreds of thousands of whales, dolphins, seals, and sea turtles each year. It can happen both during fishing expeditions and when gear has been lost or abandoned on the seafloor. For some species, like the Atlantic right whale and the leatherback sea turtle, fishing gear entanglement is the number-one threat to the population. Even when they don’t kill animals directly, nets and lines can dramatically limit animals’ ability to feed, or slow them down enough to be caught by predators. 

To fix this problem, conservationists are encouraging fishers to use gear that has been modified so it is less likely to harm non-target species, and by encouraging the proper disposal of fishing gear so that it doesn’t become lost or abandoned at sea.