Fishing gear losses remain a serious problem for marine life; these losses are also the source of an invisible fishing mortality. This study is an analysis of this problem within the artisanal fisheries of Istanbul. From September 2009 through May 2010, face-to-face interviews were conducted in 27 fishing ports for a total of 282 questionnaires. Estimates of lost fishing gear were 229.48 km of set nets, 2700 m of longlines, and 14 fish traps. Turbot nets had the highest loss ratio (54.73%), followed by bonito nets (16%), red mullet nets (7.36%), and encircling trammel nets (4.83%). The four major causes of net loss were: conflicts with other gear types (trawl and purse seine), conflicts with cargo vessels, bottom structure hindrances, and bad weather conditions. Bottom structures were the single factor in net losses for longlines and fish traps. The study observed that large quantities of nets had been lost, and that each net type showed a positive relationship between the number of nets used and the number of nets lost. Separate zones for artisanal and industrial fisheries are recommended as a realistic approach to reduce the losses of fishing gear and the impact of 'ghost fishing'.