The Global Ghost Gear Initiative: Success in the Fight Against Ghost Fishing

The silent menace of ghost fishing, caused by abandoned, lost, or discarded fishing gear (ALDFG), is a persistent challenge faced by marine ecosystems across the globe. The Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) was established to tackle this issue head-on. Since its inception, the GGGI has celebrated numerous successes, showcasing a resolute commitment to making the oceans healthier and more sustainable.

A Global Alliance
Founded in 2015, the GGGI is a unique alliance that combines the expertise of governments, NGOs, fishing industry stakeholders, academics, and others. Its mission is clear: reduce the ecological and economic impacts of ALDFG.

Successes in Building Evidence
Understanding the problem is the first step toward solving it. The GGGI has been instrumental in:

Data Collection: Gathering vital information about the scope and scale of ghost fishing globally.
Research Collaboration: Working with academic institutions to understand the full environmental and economic consequences of ghost gear.
Hotspot Identification: Pinpointing areas with significant ALDFG problems, enabling targeted interventions.
Prevention and Best Practices
Stopping the problem before it starts is a key focus for the GGGI. Successes in this area include:

Industry Engagement: Collaborating with the fishing industry to develop and implement best practices in gear management.
Regulatory Guidance: Providing input into international standards and regulations to prevent gear loss.
Innovative Gear Design: Supporting the development of biodegradable or traceable fishing gear to minimize long-term harm.
Gear Recovery and Recycling
The GGGI’s successes in gear recovery and recycling are monumental:

Large-scale Retrieval Operations: Organizing and supporting efforts to remove ghost gear from heavily affected areas.
Recycling Initiatives: Developing recycling networks to transform retrieved fishing gear into new products, thus creating sustainable and circular solutions.
Community Engagement: Working with local communities to foster awareness and active participation in ghost gear removal.
A Catalyst for Global Change
Through international collaboration and leadership, the GGGI has:

Fostered Partnerships: Bringing together diverse stakeholders to work collectively towards a common goal.
Influenced Policy: Shaping international regulations and agreements to address ALDFG.
Inspired Action: Acting as a global advocate for change, raising awareness, and promoting solutions to the ghost fishing problem.
The Global Ghost Gear Initiative’s successes in combatting ghost fishing are a testament to the power of collaboration, innovation, and determination. From understanding the issue to preventing gear loss, and from recovery to recycling, the GGGI’s multifaceted approach has made tangible strides in the fight against one of the ocean’s most insidious threats. The path forward remains challenging, but the GGGI’s continued leadership provides a beacon of hope for the health of our oceans and the sustainable future of global fisheries.

Banishing Ghost Gear: A Global Effort for Ocean Conservation

Ghost fishing, a silent threat to marine ecosystems, knows no boundaries. Ocean currents can carry lost or abandoned fishing gear across vast distances, making it a global issue. For example, approximately 95% of nets that wash ashore in Australia are believed to originate from other countries, highlighting the transboundary nature of the problem. As these derelict gears drift, they converge with discarded plastics, forming floating trash islands like the notorious Great Pacific Garbage Patch. To combat this issue, innovative technologies like PingMe , along with practical measures and international cooperation, are essential for banishing ghost gear from our oceans.

Ocean Currents and the Global Reach of Ghost Gear

The relentless force of ocean currents propels lost or discarded fishing gear across vast expanses of water. As nets and other gear become entangled, they can travel significant distances before washing ashore or becoming trapped in convergence zones. This phenomenon explains why a considerable portion of ghost gear found in one country can originate from distant shores. For example, Australia, known for its pristine coastlines, grapples with an overwhelming majority of nets that come from elsewhere. The alarming fact underscores the urgent need for international collaboration in addressing ghost gear.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch and the Plastic Connection

Ghost gear not only poses a threat on its own but also contributes to the broader problem of marine plastic pollution. Ocean currents gather discarded fishing gear and plastic debris into convergence zones, resulting in massive floating trash islands, such as the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The presence of ghost gear exacerbates the plastic pollution crisis, as these entangled nets and lines persist for years, continuing to capture marine life and break down into microplastics. By tackling ghost gear, we can simultaneously address the entwined issue of marine plastic pollution.

Practical Measures and International Cooperation

To effectively combat ghost gear, a multifaceted approach is required. The United Nations has outlined practical measures aimed at curbing this pervasive problem. Education plays a vital role, as raising awareness among the fishing industry about the impact of lost gear fosters responsible practices. Incentives can be provided to encourage fishermen to report lost equipment and actively retrieve nets encountered at sea. Establishing collection facilities at each port facilitates the safe disposal of old, damaged, or retrieved gear, ensuring its proper handling and promoting recycling initiatives.

International cooperation is key to addressing ghost gear comprehensively. Collaboration among countries, fishing communities, environmental organizations, and industry stakeholders can lead to the development and implementation of standardized protocols for reporting lost gear, tracking its origins, and facilitating cross-border retrieval efforts. By sharing knowledge, best practices, and resources, nations can work together toward a common goal of banishing ghost gear from our oceans.

Ghost gear, propelled by ocean currents and converging with plastic debris, poses a significant threat to marine ecosystems and biodiversity. Combating this issue requires a global effort, with innovative technologies like PingMe playing a vital role in the retrieval and prevention of lost fishing gear. However, long-term solutions lie in international cooperation, education, incentives, and infrastructure to dispose of and recycle gear responsibly. By banishing ghost gear, we take a crucial step towards preserving the health of our oceans and securing the livelihoods of fishermen who depend on sustainable fish stocks for their existence. Let us join forces and protect our oceans for future generations.

Norway’s Annual Fishing Gear Recovery Program

Norway has gained recognition for its commitment to sustainable fisheries management and environmental conservation. One notable initiative undertaken by the Norwegian government is the annual fishing gear recovery program. This program aims to combat ghost fishing by actively retrieving lost or abandoned fishing gear from Norwegian waters. In this article, we delve into the key features and successes of Norway’s annual fishing gear recovery program, while also exploring the potential impact of integrating the PingMe system into their efforts.

Program Objectives and Scope: The primary objective of Norway’s annual fishing gear recovery program is to locate and recover abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear (ALDFG), including nets, lines, and traps, which can contribute to ghost fishing. The program strives to reduce marine pollution, protect marine species, and ensure the sustainability of fisheries by removing gear that poses a threat to the marine ecosystem.

Collaboration and Partnerships: The success of the fishing gear recovery program relies on strong collaboration between government agencies, fishing industry stakeholders, and environmental organizations. The Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries coordinates the program in partnership with local municipalities, fishing vessel owners, and volunteer divers. Through this collaboration, a comprehensive and efficient effort is made to retrieve ghost gear from various coastal and offshore areas.

Implementation and Methodology: The fishing gear recovery program is typically carried out during specific periods, such as the summer months when favorable weather conditions facilitate diving and vessel operations. While the program primarily relies on self-reported coordinates of lost gear, there is potential for improvement by incorporating innovative systems like PingMe. By integrating the PingMe system, which utilizes advanced tracking technology, the program can enhance its ability to locate and recover lost gear more efficiently.

Responsible Disposal and Recycling: Recovered fishing gear is handled responsibly to minimize environmental impact. The Norwegian government emphasizes the importance of proper disposal methods, including recycling whenever feasible. Recycling programs ensure that recovered gear is repurposed into raw materials, contributing to waste reduction and the promotion of a circular economy.

Positive Environmental Impacts: Norway’s annual fishing gear recovery program has made significant strides in mitigating the impact of ghost fishing. By actively removing ghost gear from the marine environment, the program helps safeguard marine life from entanglement and habitat destruction. Moreover, it reduces the risk of marine pollution caused by the degradation of fishing gear materials.

The Potential of PingMe: As part of ongoing efforts to enhance the fishing gear recovery program, integrating innovative tracking systems like PingMe can offer substantial benefits. By leveraging PingMe’s advanced tracking technology, the program can potentially increase the recovery rate of lost gear to 100%. The real-time tracking capabilities of PingMe would streamline the process of locating and retrieving gear, saving time and fuel costs while ensuring more effective results.

Norway’s annual fishing gear recovery program serves as a commendable example of proactive measures to combat ghost fishing and protect marine ecosystems. Through collaboration, effective implementation, and responsible disposal practices, the program has successfully reduced the negative impacts of lost or abandoned fishing gear. By embracing innovative tracking solutions like PingMe, the program can further optimize its efforts, increasing the recovery rate and efficiency of gear retrieval. Norway’s commitment to preserving its marine resources sets an inspiring precedent for other countries seeking to protect their valuable natural ecosystems.

Ghost fishing in Scotland

Earlier this month we went to the skipper expo in Aberdeen. It was a valuable experience, and gave us an opportunity to hear from the locals.

Ghost fishing is a growing concern in Scotland’s marine environment. This phenomenon occurs when abandoned or lost fishing gear, such as nets and lines, continue to fish and entangle marine life, causing harm and death to a range of species.

The issue of ghost fishing in Scotland has been highlighted by several studies, which show that lost or abandoned fishing gear is a major source of marine debris, with some estimates suggesting that it accounts for up to 10% of all marine litter.

The impact of ghost fishing on Scotland’s marine life can be significant, with entangled animals often suffering from injuries, infections, and starvation, which can lead to a decline in population numbers. Ghost fishing can also have economic consequences for the fishing industry, as lost gear can represent a significant financial loss.

Efforts to address ghost fishing in Scotland are ongoing, with a range of initiatives aimed at preventing the loss of fishing gear and recovering lost gear from the marine environment. These initiatives include awareness campaigns to encourage responsible fishing practices, the development of new technologies to reduce gear loss, and the implementation of programs to remove ghost gear from the ocean.

By addressing the issue of ghost fishing, Scotland can protect its rich marine biodiversity and preserve the economic benefits provided by its fishing industry.

  1. Carruthers, T. R., et al. (2018). “Ghost fishing in Scottish waters: a synthesis of evidence, losses and management approaches.” Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 28(5): 1145-1157.
  2. Seaman, M., et al. (2019). “The extent and impacts of lost and abandoned fishing gear in northern Scotland: a pilot study.” Marine Pollution Bulletin 146: 563-571.
  3. WWF Scotland. (2020). “The lost and abandoned fishing gear problem in Scotland: a review of the current situation.” Available at: ** lost and abandoned fishing gear problem in Scotland – June 2020 FINAL.pdf**