Seal pup Puri, tangled in a fishing net


A young seal pup named Puri was found on the beach with a plastic fishing net wrapped around his neck. It was coiled so tightly that it left a deep, infected wound.

Puri was near death when a lifeguard carried him to a wildlife rescue centre. The net was removed, he was given painkillers and antibiotics, and his long recovery process began.

The sweet pup must have been terrified. And in so much pain.

But as heart-breaking as Puri’s story is, he is one of the lucky ones.

Every year, hidden beneath the oceans across the world, thousands of marine animals are being trapped and killed by “ghost gear” — abandoned nets and forgotten fishing lines.

Donate today to stop more seal pups like Puri from being tangled in and tortured by abandoned fishing gear.

New Zealand fur seal pup

Donate today to end their suffering


There is a silent predator in our oceans: abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear, known as ghost gear.

Globally, between 500,000 and 1 million tons of fishing gear are entering the ocean every year.

Ghost gear is the deadliest form of marine plastic pollution. It was designed to kill. Abandoned fishing gear can carry on trapping everything in its path for decades after being used, and hundreds of animals can be caught in a single net.

Ghost gear is a contributor to the ocean plastics crisis, too. Nearly HALF of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (which covers an area six times the size of New Zealand) is made of fishing gear.

Plastic pollution facts


Abandoned fishing gear was made to trap marine animals. It is deadly by design.

A curious seal like Puri plays with a ghost net which he mistakes for seaweed, unaware that he could be fatally trapped. As one of his rescuers said, he “must have rolled and rolled continually in the sea trying to get it off but it’s getting tighter and tighter.”

Seal caught in fishing gear

Loggerhead sea turtle trapped in an abandoned fishing net

These tragedies happen close to home -- to Aotearoa’s local and native species, some of which are already endangered. You may have seen the stories of dead Hector’s dolphins washing up on the beach wrapped tightly in a net. Or the fur seal pup found dead on Makara Beach near Wellington. There are too many of these stories to count.

And it’s happening all over the world. Sea turtles with flippers so damaged they need to be amputated. Whales drowning when they cannot swim to resurface for air. Dolphins starving to death because their mouths are shut by nets. Their deaths are often slow and painful, lasting months or even years.


We can't do it alone. We must raise enough money to carry out the work needed to combat ghost gear.

Your generous donation today will help us:

  • assess the scope of the problem in Aotearoa and identify areas for improvement
  • raise awareness by working with local organisations and recreational fishers
  • work with the fishing sector to support continued use of best practices to prevent fishing gear loss, report and retrieve lost fishing gear, and share their expertise
  • lobby the government to support a new Global Plastic Treaty to stop all forms of plastic from drowning our ocean

Through the Global Ghost Gear Initiative, WWF is hard at work with conservation partners, fishers, and supporters around the world to achieve ghost-gear-free seas. In 2015, a single WWF-led mission in the Baltic Sea hauled up 268 tons of nets, ropes, and other material.

But we can’t do it alone. Please make an urgent donation today to help reduce the needless deaths caused by ghost gear.

Donate today to end their suffering

A global treaty on marine plastic pollution

Many of us are doing our bit to reduce plastics pollution, but it’s time that governments and businesses took their full responsibility too.

Join our fight. Call on our governments to introduce a global legally binding agreement to stop plastics polluting our oceans!

Sign the petition!

© Troy Mayne / WWF


Plastic doesn’t belong in nature.

Right now, animals like Puri the seal pup are suffering, trapped in plastic fishing gear designed to keep them trapped.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Together, we can create a future with no plastic in nature.

Donate to WWF today and help us put an end to the plastic pollution crisis.

© Aqua Images /