In June of 2018, Georgia Strait Alliance decided to join forces with fishers, governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, academia, artists, recycling companies, seafood distributors, and other businesses and organizations from around the world to tackle the ever increasing problem of ghost gear in our oceans through the Global Ghost Gear Initiative.
The Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) is a cross-sectoral alliance of organizations dedicated to solving the problem of abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG), also known as “ghost gear”, on a global scale. Because ghost gear has negative impacts on wildlife, marine environments and local economies, Georgia Strait Alliance felt it was important to be part of an initiative to help clean up and protect our oceans because the issue is a growing one in our local waters as well as around the world.
The three mission objectives of the GGGI are:
- To improve the health of marine ecosystems
- To safeguard human health and livelihoods
- To protect marine animals from harm
The GGGI is an initiative started by World Animal Protection and officially launched in September 2015. There are currently over 80 participants and the list keeps growing. Eleven governments signed letters of support for the GGGI at the United Nations Conference in 2017 and now Canada has signed on as well.
How Big is the Problem?
In one word – massive! The estimate is that over 640,000 tonnes of fishing gear is lost, abandoned or discarded in the ocean worldwide every year.
Millions of marine organisms are killed or injured by ghost gear as they become entangled, including cetaceans (whales, dolphins & porpoises), pinnipeds (seals and sea lions), marine birds, sea turtles and invertebrates. Destruction of marine habitats such as coral reefs, glass sponge reefs and eelgrass beds, is also a major problem caused by ALDFG.
Losses to marine fisheries are in the millions across all countries that have access to the sea. Ghost gear is also a major source of marine plastic pollution as the majority of all nets are made from different types of plastic materials.
Check out a local net removal project where a purse seine net was removed near Pender Island in 2015 by GGGI participants.
Major achievements by GGGI working groups
- The GGGI has developed a ghost gear reporting app and global data portal for reporting fishing gear. The Ghost Gear Reporter app is free and you can use it the next time you are out on the beach or the water and see ghost gear!
- The GGGI completed the Best Practice Framework for Management of Fishing Gear. This was a massive undertaking with consultation with fishers, fisheries management, seafood companies, recycling companies and NGO’s. The next step is to encourage governments to adopt the framework into fisheries management policies.
- Solutions projects that involve preventing fishing gear from ending up in the ocean, removal of derelict gear and recycling of end-of-life and recovered gear are happening all over the world, lead by GGGI participants. Learn more about the different projects happening around the globe!