Ghost Gear Management Guide Released

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Credit: David Burdick

By MarEx 2017-04-09 19:24:36

A best practice framework on the management of fishing gear developed by the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) was launched for industry-wide consultation on Monday. 

Ghost gear is fishing equipment which has been abandoned or lost and is now causing harm to fisheries and ocean ecosystems. The framework provides the seafood industry - from port operators to seafood companies - with practical steps to decrease the abundance and effects of ghost gear within their respective industries. 

Developed with input from over 40 GGGI participants from across the industry, the best practices framework is the first in the world to recommend solutions and approaches to combat ghost fishing across the entire supply chain.

Each year an estimated 640,000 tons of fishing gear is lost or abandoned in oceans, estuaries and bays. Whether intentionally discarded or accidentally lost, this gear sticks around for hundreds of years, and it catches and wastes targeted marine species, entangles marine wildlife, adds to ocean waste and presents additional expenses and hazards for fishermen and marine communities.

“This is a big step towards implementing more sustainable fishing practices globally,” says Guy Dean, Vice President at Albion Fisheries, 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.”

“Minor improvements to fishing gear and fishing policies can significantly reduce the impact of ghost gear on ecosystems, livelihoods and marine animals,” says 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, before it is finalized and adopted later this year. GGGI is working with Ocean Outcomes (O2) to seek feedback from all fishery stakeholders affected by ghost gear. A series of webinars will also be held.