Aquaculture for all

Plans to reduce marine litter launched

Sustainability +1 more

Over 40 seafood, fishing industry, NGO, and government stakeholders have joined forces to recommend practical steps the seafood industry can take to reduce lost or discarded fishing gear, otherwise known as ghost gear.

A best practice framework on the management of fishing gear developed by the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) has been launched this week for an industry-wide consultation. The framework provides the seafood industry - from port operators to seafood sellers - with practical steps to decrease the abundance and effects of ghost gear on marine life.

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

“This is a big step towards implementing more sustainable fishing practices globally,” says 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.”

Each year an estimated 640,000 tonnes 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.

“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,” she adds.

The draft framework is currently available for review and feedback on the GGGI website, before it is finalised 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.

To participate in a webinar or learn more about the best practice framework click here.