At the Our Ocean 2018 conference in Bali, Nestlé, the world’s biggest food company and Tesco, the UK’s biggest supermarket chain, have announced they have joined the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) to help address the more than 640,000 tonnes of fishing gear, also called ‘ghost gear’, ending up in our oceans every year. The Global Ghost Gear Initiative, founded in 2014, is the only global alliance of its kind, dedicated to tackling the problem of ghost fishing gear at a global scale.
Ghost gear refers to abandoned, lost and discarded fishing nets, lines and traps which can persist in the environment for up to 600 years.
Today the GGGI announced a raft of commitments to tackle ghost gear at scale:
- The GGGI will support 30 projects addressing ghost gear in 15 countries by 2025 where the need is the greatest
- The GGGI is pledging to double the financial commitment from its members, supporting organisations and governments to USD $2 million in 2019 to ensure the effective scaling of projects aimed at addressing and preventing the problem of ghost gear, especially in developing countries. The UK Government is committing over £100,000 for work in Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands and providing training on the best practise management of fishing gear in other Commonwealth countries. The Netherlands Government is committing €100.000 towards continued project work in Indonesia
- The GGGI will also work with three market leading certifications schemes, all 13 GGGI signatory countries and UN FAO to implement best practice management of fishing gear by 2021 including the uptake of the recently adopted UN FAO Guidelines for the Marking of Fishing Gear. Overall, the GGGI pledges to help establish baselines and contribute to achieve a net reduction of ghost gear in our oceans on an annual basis by 2030.
The equivalent of 52,000 London double decker buses, or 65 Eiffel towers, of ghost gear is left in the oceans each year. Fishing gear is designed to capture and kill and when lost it will continue to fish- this is known as ghost fishing. An estimated 5 to 30% of the decline in some fish stocks can be attributed to ‘ghost gear.’ When lost it can cause suffering for marine animals that can get caught in this incredibly durable equipment. Seven out of ten (71%) entanglements involve plastic ghost gear.
The GGGI now has 91-member organisations globally – with the Canadian government and supermarket giant Lidl the two most recent partners to join the initiative. From January 2019 onwards, Ocean Conservancy (OC) will become the GGGI’s new lead partner organisation.
Ingrid Giskes, Global Head of Sea Change at World Animal Protection, said: “Ghost gear is recognised as a key issue that we need to tackle if we want to ensure sustainable fish stock levels and clean and thriving oceans. I am delighted that large corporate partners and governments alike are committing resources to ensure that we can use our collective impact to make a real dent in the targets for the Sustainable Development Goals.
“The commitments announced today will help ensure that we will achieve a net reduction of the amount of ghost gear in our oceans – by preventing more from entering and removing what is already there.”