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SeaBOS Joins Global Ghost Gear Initiative

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By The Maritime Executive 2019-10-27 19:57:53

On October 24, during the Our Ocean 2019 conference in Oslo, the Seafood Business for Ocean Stewardship initiative (SeaBOS) announced it has joined the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI).

SeaBOS represents 10 of the world’s largest seafood companies. The companies committed to the initiative include Maruha Nichiro, Nissui, Thai Union, Mowi ASA, Dongwon, Skretting, Cargill, Cermaq, Kyokuyo, and Charoen Pokphand Foods (CPF). 

Launched in 2015, the GGGI is a cross-sectoral alliance that addresses the problem of ghost gear worldwide. Through the collective impact of its close to-100 members, the GGGI aims to reduce the ecological and economic impacts of ghost gear.

Since its inception, the GGGI has established the world’s first and largest database on ghost gear – combining data sets from organizations all over the world.

In 2009, a UN study estimated that at least 640,000 tonnes of abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear accumulate in the world's oceans each year, but new research has indicated that this number is likely to be much higher today. Recent studies have suggested that between 46 - 70 percent of floating macroplastics may be fishing related when measured by weight.

It is estimated that over 90 percent of species caught in ghost gear are of commercial value. An estimated 5-30 percent decline in some fish stocks and damage to important marine habitats can be attributed to ghost gear.

The adverse impacts of ghost gear have been made even worse by the introduction of non-biodegradable or plastic fishing gear, predicted to persist in the marine environment for up to 600 years. Ghost fishing gear (if measured by weight) may account for over half of all macroplastics in the oceans today and will eventually break down into microplastics, where it will be consumed by marine animals and, ultimately, enter the human food chain. 

Norway becomes newest government to join Global Ghost Gear Initiative

Also during the Our Ocean 2019 conference, the Norwegian government announced it is joining the GGGI. Norway joins 14 other governments who have also recognized the importance of addressing ghost gear at scale. 

On a national level, Norway has a legislation in place whereby anyone who loses gear or cuts it adrift is obliged to search for it and report it if it cannot be retrieved. Norwegian Fisheries Authorities have conducted recovery operations since 1983 and have retrieved a total of more than 1000 tons of different types of fishing gear and 22,000 gill-nets over the years.