MEDIA RELEASE: Activists Clean Up Ghost Gear for Respect for Fish Day Today

MEDIA RELEASE: Activists Clean Up Ghost Gear for Respect for Fish Day Today

VAN NUYS, Calif. (Aug. 1, 2022)In Defense of Animals and members of the public gathered ghost gear at Lake Balboa Park on Sunday, July 31, in honor of the third annual Respect for Fish Day which is held each year on August 1. This year the awareness day is focused on the dangers ghost gear poses to fish, wildlife, and the environment.

Participants were shocked by the vast quantities of ghost gear, or derelict fishing gear, along the shore of Lake Balboa. It is especially prevalent in the fly fishing zone, where dozens of waterfowl regularly congregate near a drain with flowing water. Volunteers pulled long fishing lines from the muck, many with two or three hooks attached. They reported people fishing nearby who tossed their lines while the activists gathered ghost gear. 

Onlookers cheered as a kayaker hand-delivered a discarded fishing line he found floating on the lake’s surface!

Local residents have reported massive amounts of ghost gear left behind by people fishing at the lake, especially when park supervision is limited. Because the lake’s water is contaminated, the fish cannot be consumed. 

While gathering ghost gear, participants saw the discarded dead body of a fish who was left behind on the shore to suffocate to death, which is extremely cruel. Residents have frequently documented anglers leaving live fish to die.

Activists removed several bags of hazardous fishing garbage during the Respect For Fish Day ghost gear cleanup on Sunday, July 31. Photos: In Defense of Animals

Ghost gear left behind, including fishing lines, hooks, and nets, have also caused injuries and death to wildlife. Rescuers often find ducks and geese entangled in fishing lines, leading to serious injuries, amputations, and slow, painful deaths.

It also puts local wildlife at risk, including pelicans, pigeons, terns, cranes, seagulls, raccoons, squirrels and rabbits, among other species.  

Several people have reported being hurt by fishing hooks left on the ground, including a young girl wearing sneakers who was injured after stepping on one that pierced her shoe and foot.

Ducks, fish, and members of the public are injured by ghost gear left behind at Lake Balboa Park. Photos: In Defense of Animals/Rhita Williams 

A team of local advocates is working tirelessly to remove ghost gear from the lake and rescue wild animals. However, some have been accosted by anglers at night.

More than 7,500 people have signed In Defense of Animals’ alert calling on city and park officials to ban fishing and implement a waterfowl protection plan. Lake Balboa Park Aquatics Director Andre Brent, Lake Balboa Park Senior Ranger Gary Menjuga, and Los Angeles City Council President CA-District 06 Nury Martinez have ignored those calls.

“The vast quantity of ghost gear at Lake Balboa is an unacceptable problem harming fish, wildlife, and kids. Volunteers shouldn’t need to clean up fishing gear left by others. Wildlife injuries and deaths can be prevented with a ban on fishing and additional measures we’ve suggested as part of a waterfowl protection plan,” said Lisa Levinson, Campaigns Director for In Defense of Animals. “We hope our cleanup efforts for Respect for Fish Day help raise awareness about this issue and encourage Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez and Lake Balboa Park officials Gary Menjuga and Andre Brent to take this problem seriously.”

Concerned members of the public are encouraged to take action:

They can also follow Saving Lake Balboa Waterfowl on Facebook for abuse updates and volunteer for the Balboa Park Rescue Team.

Watch the Respect For Fish Day Ghost Gear video:

To learn more about Respect for Fish Day, visit


Images and video of the July 31 Ghost Gear Gather at Lake Balboa Park for Respect for Fish Day, free for use with credit:

Contact: Lisa Levinson, [email protected], (215) 620-2130


In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization based in Marin County, California, with over 250,000 supporters and a 39-year history of fighting for animals, people, and the environment through education and campaigns, as well as hands-on rescue facilities in India, South Korea, and rural Mississippi.


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