Fishing Harms Everyone: Observe Respect for Fish Day on August 1

Fishing Harms Everyone: Observe Respect for Fish Day on August 1

Our third annual Respect for Fish Day is Monday, August 1. We founded this special day in 2020 to create a more compassionate world for fish, whose concerns are almost universally ignored despite the fact that fish feel pain and experience emotions. This year’s theme is ghost gear - abandoned or lost fishing gear that injures and kills fish and other unsuspecting animals such as sea turtles and water birds. We need your help to raise awareness about the hazards of ghost gear in our communities. Read on to take part!  

Ghost gear is made of extremely durable plastics that never truly decompose. Fishing nets, pots, traps, lines, ropes, and lures left behind by commercial and recreational fishers float through water indiscriminately injuring and killing animals indefinitely, sometimes for hundreds of years. 

This duckling was severely injured by a fishing hook impaled inside her body.

Fish, birds, turtles, sea lions, seals, manatees, and even threatened and endangered animals such as North Atlantic right whales and olive ridley turtles are killed or seriously injured by ghost gear from commercial fisheries every year. When fishing gear finally breaks down enough to no longer be an entanglement threat for animals, it converts into microplastics, which pollute habitats and are ingested by animals, including the humans who eat them. By 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. 

Commercial fishing wreaks havoc on a massive scale in ocean habitats, while recreational fishing generates ghost gear along beaches, lakes, and waterways. Hobby fishing hurts and kills animals, even “catch and release,” which exhausts fish to death. Fishing derbies and contests magnify these concerns by encouraging children to kill fish and by normalizing animal suffering. 

Animals lose life and limb to ghost gear left behind by fishers.

Fishing harms fish and other animals including turtles, seals, and ducks who get tangled or trapped in ghost gear. Fishing lines and nets get embedded into animals’ bodies causing pain and difficulty moving. Injured animals may suffocate, drown, starve, lose limbs, or die.

For Respect for Fish Day, we’re encouraging everyone to pick up ghost gear and to enjoy activities in nature without harming fish. You can organize a beach clean-up, invite friends to pick up ghost gear around a lake, or simply gather ghost gear you find along a local river or waterway. 

Collecting the hazardous garbage left by fishers helps all animals.

Show us your gathered ghost gear! Use the hashtag #Respect4Fish and tag us on social media. Or, send your photos to and your videos to We will consider featuring your ghost gear in our outreach efforts! 

Instagram: @ida_international

Facebook: @indefenseofanimals 

Twitter: @IDAUSA


We can’t guarantee that your content will be used or shared, but by submitting content to In Defense of Animals you are giving us permission to publish your images on our website, in our newsletter, and/or on social media platforms.

No time to gather ghost gear? You can participate in Respect for Fish Day by visiting our website to access a Toolkit with images to share on social media and we also have a downloadable ghost gear fact sheet that you can distribute in your community. Take action by signing our alert to save fish, turtles, and ducks from ghost gear harm.

We can all do our part to prevent ghost gear from wreaking havoc in the world’s oceans, lakes, and waterways. Choose not to support fishing operations by not eating or purchasing fish. We can also do our part by choosing not to fish, and instead deciding to enjoy peaceful, harm-free activities in nature.

Thank you so much in advance for participating in Respect for Fish Day to create a more compassionate world for fish! 

Get involved: 

Take action: