LOST and abandoned fishing gear is causing irreparable damage to the world’s oceans, a UK conference was told.
Experts from around the world met in London at the weekend to launch the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI), marking the start of an action plan to tackle this urgent problem.
The GGGI, driven by World Animal Protection, brought together leading experts, including the United Nations Environment Programme, the Marine Stewardship Council, Young’s Seafood and Australia’s Northern Prawn Fishery to share their knowledge and expertise to ensure safer, cleaner oceans.
Lost and abandoned fishing gear, also known as ’ghost gear’, poses a significant threat to the health and productivity of our oceans.
Each year sees the appearance of new ghost gear due to factors such as extreme weather events, accidental loss or deliberate disposal at sea.
Mostly made of plastic with a life expectancy of up to 600 years, ghost gear accumulates in our oceans at an estimated rate of 640,000 tonnes per year or one tonne of ghost gear per 125 tonnes of fish caught.
This causes huge devastation to marine habitats as it continues to catch, entangle and kill hundreds of species including seals, turtles, dolphins and whales.
The growing volume of ghost gear and lack of a global solution puts a strain on the livelihoods of coastal communities and productivity of the fishing industry.
For example, ghost fishing gear is estimated to cost marketable lobster US$250 million per year globally.
David Parker, marine biologist at Young’s Seafood, said: ‘We recognise that ghost gear poses a significant yet hidden threat to both the seafood industry and the wider marine environment, affecting fishermen, other marine users and wildlife.
‘Young’s aims to bring a seafood industry perspective to the GGGI through the network of our supply chains around the world.’
Mike Mitchell, CSR and technical director at Young’s, said: ‘As a leading processor of responsibly sourced fish we are delighted to be involved in this ground breaking initiative, seeking to tackle one of the great unresolved issues in seafood sustainability, on a global scale.
‘We’re pleased to be taking a hands-on role in this, drawing on the expertise of our marine biologist, as part of our Fish for Life programme on responsible sourcing.’