Archaeological evidence shows that gill nets have been used since ancient times in the Middle East. In addition, aboriginal fishermen in North America used gill nets made of nettles or the inner bark of cedar trees. In short: if there are fish to be caught, using a gill net is still a highly efficient way of doing it.
But modern gillnets are made of monofilament, a high tinsel-strength plastic. Once in the water they are virtually invisible and non-biodegradable: they will last forever. All manner of aquatic fish and animals: whales, dolphins, sea turtles, even pelagic birds get entangled in lost or abandoned gill nets, trapped for life. Laws fail to be passed and regulations are ignored even in locations where species have nearly been fished to extinction.
Tourist with fisherman, outrigger canoe and gill nets: photographed in Surigao del Sur, Mindanao the Philippines, by Gaps Sabuero.