Abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG), often called ‘ghost gear’, refers to fishing gear that has, either accidentally or purposefully, been abandoned, lost or discarded, and which has the ability to continue fishing (called ‘ghost fishing’) for several months to several years after it has been lost to the marine environment.
ALDFG has devastating effects on the marine environment and has a negative impact on fisheries through decreasing fish yields. In Africa, the amount of ALDFG in the sea has not been quantified. As a result, the extent of economic losses caused by ALDFG is unknown. Since the fisheries sector is a major contributor to Africa’s GDP, declines in fish yields could place great pressure on the economies of African countries.
In this project we will work with the various stakeholders within the fishing industry to develop a method to quantify the amount of fishing gear lost (or discarded) in the oceans surrounding southern and East Africa. The fisheries in Africa range from poor artisanal fishermen, whose nets are precious to them and are constantly repaired and rarely discarded, to large commercial trawler-based fisheries which can afford to discard old nets and replace them with new nets. The full spectrum needs to be considered in developing a true picture.
Through the African Marine Waste Network, we aim to determine the costs of ALDFG in the African seas, from environmental, economic and societal perspectives, to incentivise the recycling of fishing gear.