The Global Ghost Gear Initiative
The Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) is a multi-stakeholder public-private partnership committed to driving solutions to the problem of lost and abandoned fishing gear worldwide. The GGGI aims to improve the health and productivity of marine ecosystems, protect marine animals, and safeguard human health and livelihoods.
It is estimated that some 6 to 8 hundred thousand tonnes of fishing gear are lost or abandoned in our oceans each year, making up around one tenth of all marine litter. Ghost gear is by far, the deadliest form of marine debris. Recent studies by the Joint Research Centre, the European Commission’s in-house science service, Ocean Conservancy and others indicate that ghost fishing gear is 4 times more likely to impact on marine life, through entanglement, than all other forms of marine debris combined.
Also, while generalization is difficult as individual studies focus on specific species in particular geographic areas, there is an increasing consensus that ghost fishing gear is directly responsible for a 10 percent decline in fish stock levels globally. This is the second most dominant contributing cause of fish stock decline after overfishing.
Ghost gear costs governments and marine industries many millions of dollars annually in clean-up expenses and lost fishing time. It also compromises yields and income in fisheries, contributes to global food losses and food waste, and is a significant contributing factor to the global marine plastics and micro-plastics problem.
The GGGI currently brings together over 80 participants across 50 unique organisations including the fishing industry, the private sector, academia, governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations, is led by a Steering Group voted on by majority from and by the Global Ghost Gear Initiative’s participant base. The GGGI's membership is organised into three integrated working groups to directly tackle the global ghost gear problem in the following ways:
Build evidence: Collecting data locally and regionally and standardising it globally to understand ghost gear abundance, causes, impacts and trends. The evidence will then be used to prioritise solutions in ‘hotspot’ areas where ghost gear is a particular problem.
Define best practices and inform policies: Developing best practice guidance on the management of fishing gear at the different stages of its life. This guidance will be used to advise government and industry policies to ensure enhanced prevention and mitigation of the ghost gear problem globally. The Best Practice Guidelines have recently been released for industry consultation and will be formally launched in June.
Catalyse and replicate solutions: Expanding scalable and replicable solutions that develop new ways to tackle the problem of ghost gear. They are particularly focused on holistic solutions that can evolve into sustainable business models. Several solutions projects have started in the UK, Pakistan, Indonesia, the USA and Canada.
In the run-up to 2017 UN Ocean Conference, the GGGI welcomes any additional corporations, governments, NGOs, civil society and other organisations to officially join our efforts to protect the world ocean health and productivity from the harmful effects of lost and abandoned fishing gear.
By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution
Type of commitment
- Other (please specify): Prevention of gear loss through improved gear management
- Coastal clean-ups:
- Plastics recovery/recycling/reuse:
- Management of ship-based pollution and/or port waste management
- Currently 6 to 8 hundred tonnes of ALDFG is lost in our oceans on an annual basis. By 2030, we envisage that more gear is recovered than is lost on an annual basis.
By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics
Type of commitment
- Compliance, monitoring and enforcement
- Reduction and elimination fishing practices and gear that destroy/degrade marine habitat
- Science-based fisheries management plans
- Reduction of fisheries by-catch and product waste/losses
- Eco-labelling, traceability, certification programmes
- Market-based instruments (Individually Traded Quotas, Vessel Day Schemes, etc.)
- By 2025 at least 25% of the global commercial seafood industry will have adopted the Best Practice Framework for the Management of Fishing Gear.
By 2020, prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and refrain from introducing new such subsidies, recognizing that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries should be an integral part of the World Trade Organization fisheries subsidies negotiation
Type of commitment
- Removal or reduction of harmful fisheries subsidies
- By 2020, a significant proportion of harmful marine subsidies will have been re-purposed to enhance sustainable fishery practices.
The establishment of a global ghost gear information system and database by 2017/8
The adoption of a global set of guidelines for gear marking by the FAO Committee on Fisheries in 2018 and the practical application of those guidelines by a significantly large subset of countries, allowing for targeted and effective preventative and removal action by 2020
The adoption and implementation of the GGGI Best Practice Framework on the management of fishing gear from production to end-of-life recycling by at least one quarter of the global commercial seafood and fisheries sector by 2025
Through active preventative and removal action, the total amount of ghost gear entering our oceans is smaller than the total amount of ghost gear removed from the ocean so that we achieve a net reduction of ghost gear in our oceans on an annual basis by 2030
Ghost gear removal equipment and other contributions from civil society, national governments, UN organisations and the private sector
Staff / Technical expertise
Staffing (5 full-time and 20 part-time) plus research and technical expertise and project management
Other, please specify
USD 700,000 - 1,000,000 per annum
Time-frame: September 2015 - December 2030
Civil society: Project Aware, Parley for the Oceans, Northwest Straits Foundation, Plastic Disclosure Project, Ocean Conservancy, Morigenos, Natural Resource Consultants, PEW, Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre, International Pole and Line Foundation, Clean Nova Scotia Foundation, MSC, Zoological Society of London, Environmental Investigations Agency, Humane Society International UK, Healthy Seas, Ghost Fishing, Olive Ridley Project, Ghostnets Australia, KIMO International, Caloa Africa, Emerald Sea Protection Society, Neptunes Army of Rubbish Cleaners, Surfers against Sewage, Ocean Recovery Alliance, World Cetacean Alliance, Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation, Friends of the Sea, Cornwall Seal Group, California Lost Fishing Gear Recovery Project, Fisheries Institute of Sao Paulo State, Fathoms Free, ORCA, Marine Conservation Society, Italian National Institute for Environmental Protection and Research
Government/multilateral: CSIRO, UNEP, FAO, IWC, SPREP, the Government of the Kingdom of Belgium, the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga, the Government of the Independent State of Samoa, the Government of Tuvalu, the Government of New Zealand and the Government of Sweden.
Private Sector: TriMarine, Sainsbury’s, Bureo, Fourth Element, Plastix, Espersen, Waste Free Oceans Foundation, Aquafil, Young’s Seafood, MCB Seafood, Albion, Archipelago Marine Research, Pelagic Data Systems.
Fishing Industry: Raptis and sons, Northern Prawn Fisheries, Fiskevegen, Austral Fisheries, Steveston Harbour Authority, Salacia Marine, Fundy North Fisheries Association.
Ingrid Giskes, Head of Campaign, Sea Change, IngridGiskes@worldanimalprotection.org, +61 (0) 450 22 91 92
London, United Kingdom