A global view on ghost gear

Abandoned, lost and discarded fishing gear (ALDFG or ghost gear) is one of the major sources of marine pollution. It not only threatens marine wildlife through entanglement and continued catching of target and non-target species, called “ghost fishing”, but is also a hazard to shipping and navigation. “At our best estimate, 640 000 tonnes of fishing gear is abandoned, lost or discarded into our oceans every year.” This was a statement made by Christina Dixon, global campaign manager at World Animal Protection, who led the Global Ghost Gear Initiative’s international workshop on Fishing Gear Management on 29 November 2018 in Nairobi, Kenya.

SST’s Amarein Fourie and Stephanie Martin attended the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) Workshop on Fishing Gear Management to engage with researchers, policy makers and the international governmental community regarding ghost gear and to gain information on ghost gear best practices. The workshop provided a wonderful opportunity for the team to network with experts from around the world and engage with the issues around ghost gear prevention, mitigation and cure.

Amongst the presenters was Meriel Smith, a policy advisor at the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. She is involved with running the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance that aims to drive action on Sustainable Development Goal 14 (Life below water) and to get the other Commonwealth countries to sign up and commit to protecting the ocean. Meriel believes in the value and opportunity of ghost gear in the circular economy, but said “there is a lack of facilities to recycle lost and end of life gear at ports and therefore it is often burned.”

Christina also said that “action on ghost gear is so interlinked with the Sustainable Development Goals” and “by tackling ghost gear, we will assist countries address and meet these goals.” She shares the same sentiments with Meriel, and coordinates a group of experts geared towards developing solutions, including recycling fishing gear into fashion, skateboards, travel bags, socks, 3D printing, bracelets etc.

Some of the stakeholders and experts Stephanie and Amarein met include Myriam Bana from the Abidjan Convention, Steve Trott and Michael Mwang’ombe from the Watamu Marine Association in Kenya, Raphael Umundi from the World Animal Protection in Kenya, and Joanna Toole and Amparo Pérez Roda from the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).

An important outcome of the workshop was the need to work together to create awareness and build capacity to address ghost gear across the globe.

Thank you to all the amazing participants of the Global Ghost Gear Initiative Workshop on Fishing Gear Management and especially to Christina Dixon for the invitation and support through GGGI and the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Sourced from ‘Global Ghost Gear Initiative’.

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