Global Ghost Gear Initiative offers guidelines to reduce seafood industry's marine litter

The Global Ghost Gear Initiative, a multi-stakeholder alliance dedicated to tackling the problem of ghost fishing gear at a global scale, has released a best-practice framework for reducing ghost fishing gear from the world’s marine habitats.

More than 40 seafood, fishing industry, NGO, and government stakeholders had input into the best practices, and feedback is currently being welcomed on the guidelines, the organization said.

Abandoned, lost and discarded fishing gear is a major pollutant endangering marine wildlife and can also create hazards and additional expense for fishermen and marine communities, the GGGI said in a press release. An estimated 640,000 tons of fishing gear is lost or abandoned in oceans, estuaries, and bays annually, the group estimates.

“Minor improvements to fishing gear and fishing policies can significantly reduce the impact of ghost gear on ecosystems, livelihoods and marine animals,” said Lynn Kavanagh, the campaign manager for oceans and wildlife at World Animal Protection, a GGGI participant. “The framework presents 10 stakeholder groups with recommended approaches to combat ghost gear, each with an accompanying case study on how this has been achieved in practice. These include net recycling programs, derelict gear removal initiatives, and fishing management policy adjustments, among others. We really hope this will help the broader industry see change is both possible and practical.”

The draft framework is currently available for review and feedback on the GGGI website. The GGGI expects to finalize and adopt it later this year. The framework provides the seafood industry with “practical steps to decrease the abundance and effects of ghost gear within their respective industries,” the group said.

“This is a big step towards implementing more sustainable fishing practices globally,” said Guy Dean, Vice President at Albion Fisheries Ltd., a GGGI participant. “Ghost gear is a very real impediment to sustainable seafood. Until now, a comprehensive approach to combatting ghost gear with recommendations for all fishery stakeholders, was lacking. The best practice framework provides just that. We’re now looking for feedback on the framework so we can adopt elements of these best practices into our business activities.” 


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