from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A fishing net set vertically in the water so that fish swimming into it are entangled by the gills in its mesh.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A net which catches fish by the gills.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a flat fishnet suspended vertically in the water to entangle fish by their gills


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  • See also gillnetting.

    "A gill net is anchored slightly above the ocean floor. It looks somewhat like a badminton net. Groundifh become caught in it, and, trying to force their way through headfirst, end up being strangled at the gills. The nets are marked by buoys, and the fisherman has only to haul them up every day and remove the fish. But sometimes the nets detach from their moorings. As they drift around the ocean, they continue to catch fish until they become so weighted down that they sink to the ocean floor, where various creatures feast on the catch. When enough has been eaten, the net begins to float again, and the process continues, helped by the fact that, in the twentieth century, the gill net became almost invisible when hemp twine was replaced first by nylon and then by monofilament. Since monofilament is fairly indestructible, it is estimated that a modern "ghost net" may continue to fish on its own for as long as five years."

    —Mark Kurlansky, Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World (New York: Penguin, 1997), 124

    July 16, 2009

  • Wow.

    July 16, 2009

  • I know, it's really sickening.

    July 16, 2009