Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What is 'ghost gear'?

The term 'ghost gear' refers to any fishing equipment or fishing-related litter that has been abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded. For example, nets, line, rope, traps, pots, floats and packing bands. This is also referred to as ‘derelict fishing gear’ and/or ‘fishing litter’. An estimated 640,000 tonnes of fishing gear – around 10% of global marine litter – is added to our oceans annually. 

Question: What is ghost fishing?

Ghost fishing is a process by which abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear continues to catch fish and other animals. Ghost fishing is indiscriminate and impacts all marine animals from commercial fish stocks to marine megafauna such as whales, turtles and seabirds. Studies show that some types of ghost gear can continue to catch fish and other animals for more than eight years after loss or abandonment. It is likely that this figure significantly underestimates the catching potential of ghost gear given that many of the plastics used to make fishing gear are expected to last in our oceans for up to 600 years. 

Question: What are the impacts of ghost gear?

There is a growing body of evidence to show that ghost fishing gear poses serious impacts that are of relevance to many stakeholders. Ghost fishing gear causes large-scale damage to marine ecosystems through habitat disturbance and the effects of ghost fishing. It causes direct harm to the welfare and conservation of marine animals via entanglement and/or ingestion. Some types continue to catch fish and other animals more than eight years after being lost or abandoned. It is likely that this figure significantly underestimates the catching potential of ghost gear given that many of the plastics used to make fishing gear are expected to last in our oceans for up to 600 years. Ghost gear also acts as a source of, and vehicle for, persistent toxic chemical pollution in the ocean. It threatens human life and health, particularly divers and those trying to navigate the oceans in both small and large vessels. Ghost gear also poses economic impacts, compromising yields and income in fisheries, and costing many millions of dollars annually to clean up.

Plastic fishing gear slowly break down to become the size of grains of sand – known as ‘microplastics’. These minute plastic granules are found in water and sediments and may have a toxic effect on the food chain that scientists are only beginning to understand. The cumulative long-term effects of ghost fishing gear are likely to be extremely damaging to marine flora and fauna, as well as to the people and industries who depend on safe and healthy seas.

Question: What is the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI)?

The Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) is a cross-sectoral alliance committed to driving solutions to the problem of lost and abandoned fishing gear worldwide. The GGGI aims to improve the health of marine ecosystems, protect marine animals from harm, and safeguard human health and livelihoods.

Launching in September 2015 and founded on the best available science and technology, the GGGI is the first initiative dedicated to tackling the problem of ghost fishing gear at a global scale. The GGGI’s strength lies in the diversity of its participants including the fishing industry, the private sector, academia, governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations. Every participant has a critical role to play to mitigate ghost gear locally, regionally and globally.

As part of our collective impact we will contribute to the objectives of the Global Partnership on Marine Litter, which builds on the Honolulu Strategy and seeks to protect human health and the global environment by the reduction and management of marine litter. 

The GGGI works on the basis of a collective impact model globally. A collective impact initiative is a long-term commitment by a group of important actors from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a specific social problem. Their actions are supported by a shared measurement system, mutually reinforcing activities and ongoing communication, and are staffed by an independent backbone organisation. This is different from a fee-for-service model or a cross-sectoral membership model.

Question: Why is the GGGI necessary?

A significant number of governments and intergovernmental bodies now have marine litter, including ghost gear, on their agendas, and reduction targets in their sights. Effective solutions are being found locally, nationally and internationally. Yet there remains no global approach to catalyse change at a scale that will match the size of the problem.

Question: Who is eligible to join the GGGI?

The GGGI is a cross-sectoral alliance open to national and international institutions; the fishing industry; the private sector; and civil society organisations with interest and/or expertise in driving solutions to the problem of ghost fishing gear. Please see here for an overview of stakeholders we encourage participation from. 

Question: How do I join the GGGI?

Participation is formalised through a signed Statement of Support. Applications for participation can be made by signing and uploading the Statement of Support, and completing the online form here. We’ll process your application as quickly as possible and contact you to accept or reject it. If an application is declined we will seek to be as transparent as possible.

Question: Are there different types of participation?

The GGGI's participation system is designed to facilitate collaborative action by participants, to increase participants’ individual effectiveness to solve the problem globally, and to allow flexibility for what actions each participant takes as part of the collective.

The GGGI offers two types of participation to organisations, not to individuals. These are: Standard Participation and Leader Participation. Both types require participation commitments, the payment of an annual participation fee and participation benefits. Leaders make a bigger commitment, pay a larger fee and receive greater benefits. The GGGI's participation system can be downloaded here.

There is also an Advisory Committee, which sits outside the GGGI, open to individuals, not to organisations, who provide timely and constructive advice as requested by the Secretariat, Steering Group or Working Groups.

Please see here for more information on participation in the different GGGI governance bodies. 

Question: What are the benefits of joining the GGGI?

There are 22 benefits of Standard Participation in the GGGI:


  1. Make a global difference by contributing to safer, cleaner oceans


  1. Leadership in your sector
  2. Increase your capacity to make a difference through combining forces
  3. Increase fundraising return on investment through collaborative grant applications
  4. Opportunities to partner on specific projects
  5. Enhance your reputation by promoting your work as part of the GGGI
  6. Recognition with your logo on the GGGI website


  1. Meet new contacts at the annual meeting
  2. A platform to promote your activities
  3. Access to advice and support
  4. Discover more outlets for recycling gear
  5. Access to solution projects with wide-ranging corporate social responsibility and public relations benefits
  6. Understanding where responsible sourcing regions and fisheries are
  7. Develop innovative products and projects through collective thinking
  8. Access to interested potential funders for projects in your region


  1. Exchange information with a global community of cross-sectoral experts
  2. Share materials and develop greater knowledge and insight
  3. Access to evidence/data
  4. Learn about tangible solutions
  5. Develop case studies about your work
  6. Learn how to lead a collective impact initiative by joining the Steering Group
  7. Learn how to run collaborative work by chairing a Working Group

There are a number of additional benefits associated with Leading Participation:


  1. Higher profile on GGGI website
  2. GGGI press releases and public presentations will always feature GGGI leaders
  3. Case study reports/video will feature GGGI Leaders


  1. Leaders will be given preferential speaking slots at international conferences


  1. More influence and leadership on direction of GGGI (if join Steering Group or as a Working Group Coordinator/Chair)
  2. Leaders will be given first right of refusal to support new GGGI solution projects
Question: How long are the participation terms?

A commitment to participate is for a 3 year period. Annual fees from the participation start month will be automatically renewed for a 3 year period. An organisation has the option to leave the GGGI and forgo the fee obligation by providing 6 months advance notice in writing to World Animal Protection.

Steering Group members serve annual terms that are renewable twice only. GGGI participants elect the Steering Group at the annual meeting. 

Question: What is the focus of the Working Groups?

Following the official launch of the GGGI in September 2015, there will be three Working Groups in operation with the following mandate:

Build evidence

  • Collect data locally and regionally and standardise it globally to understand ghost gear abundance, causes, impacts and trends. 
  • Use evidence to prioritise solutions in ‘hotspot’ areas where ghost gear is a particular problem.
  • Use evidence to demonstrate positive impact and catalyse further change.

Define best practices and inform policies

  • Develop a suite of best practice to guide stakeholders at every stage of the supply chain in ghost gear management.
  • Encourage changes in industry practice and influence supply chains and/or customers.  
  • Catalyse action to mitigate ghost gear supported by government policy.

Catalyse and replicate solutions

  • Promote collaboration in driving solutions by building a global cross-sectoral community.
  • Promote proven solutions that are integrated into scalable business models.
  • Collaborate with the private sector in creating, funding and driving solutions.
  • Foster the exchange of ideas and approaches and support collective learning among participants, including sharing challenges and celebrating successes.
  • Encourage the expansion and replication of existing effective solutions globally, and the development of new ways to tackle the problem.
  • Source seed funding opportunities for solution proposals in ‘hotspot’ areas.

Suggested focus for the Working Groups in year 1 (2015-2016) can be found here. Please note that these are suggestions only, based on feedback received during the first annual meeting of the GGGI in 2014 and subsequent consultations. Work plans are to be defined by each Working Group following their launch after the second annual meeting of the GGGI in September 2015.

Question: How will the GGGI address the problem of ghost fishing gear in my region?

We have accounted for regional differences by implementing Regional Task Forces within two of the Working Groups (Define best practices and inform policies; Catalyse and replicate solutions). Working Groups take a global perspective but their work is complemented by Regional Task Forces where interest and relevance exists. Please note that Working Groups will not be operational until after the official launch of the GGGI in September 2015. 

Question: How do I communicate my participation in the GGGI?

The Secretariat has drafted Communications Guidelines for GGGI participants. These have been signed off by the Steering Group and shared with all GGGI participants.

Question: What do participant fees pay for?

The aim is that by 2018 participant fees are funding 100% of the backbone support needs of the GGGI. This will require significant growth in the number of participating organisations and commitment from those participating organisations to provide participant fees.

Question: What are backbone support costs?

Costs for administration, communications and learning/networking are considered as backbone support costs for the GGGI to operate. These costs are estimated to be just under 30% of the annual budget. They include costs for a full time coordinator, advertising and promotion, the annual GGGI meeting, communications and technology, and logistics and support to the working groups.

Question: Why don't participant fees go towards solution projects?

Not tying solution project financing to participant fees allows flexibility for the growth of these projects, regardless of the success in securing participation fees. It also means that all GGGI participants are able to establish solution projects globally as they wish, in partnership with each other, without central coordination.

Should participant income be greater than the backbone support costs, any surplus would be channelled into solution projects, although this is not expected before 2019.

Question: Does the GGGI provide solution project seed funding?

The GGGI provides the forum, network and leverage of a collective global initiative for GGGI participants who wish to work together to seek project seed funding. Any GGGI participant may contribute funds to GGGI projects, but the GGGI does not explicitly provide funding. If you have a project that you would like the GGGI to endorse then you can apply through the cross-working group Project Review Board. Application guidance can be found here. 

Question: What are the benefits of joining GGGI if I already collaboratively fundraise and/or implement ghost gear solution projects?

With participation in the GGGI, there would be a solid foundation to receive grants and government support to operate the programme. 

Question: How does the in-kind procedure work?

It provides an opportunity for those organisations that cannot afford to pay their full participant fee to subsidise the cost with activity beyond their Standard or Leader commitments. Activity will be calculated based on a standard day rate. The Steering Group approves all requests for in-kind recognition. You can get the full procedure from the Secretariat.

Question: If everyone contributes in-kind how will we cover the backbone support costs?

The in-kind recognition procedure will seek to subsidise fees. In some cases this will not meet 100% of the annual fee. Each organisation wishing to have in-kind recognition will need to make a detailed application for Steering Group approval. The Steering Group will also be overseeing the overall effectiveness of the organisation and monitor in-kind approvals against income and expenses. In addition, in 2016 and 2017 World Animal Protection will underwrite all backbone support costs.

Question: Do Leaders have more power in the GGGI?

Leading participants are not the same as Steering Group members. Steering Group members will be elected through a vote at the annual meeting regardless of their financial contribution.

Question: How can I be a Leader if I cannot afford the Leading Participant fee?

Activity, calculated in days, can add up to cover the Leading Participant fee. For example, by giving time towards being on the Steering Group, coordinating a Working Group, or chairing a Working Group. Activity required to meet an additional Leader Commitment does not count as in-kind towards the Leading Participant fee.

Question: How can I be on the Steering Group?

Any organisation can put themselves forward for election to the Steering Group, by contacting the Secretariat. Steering Group members are elected at the annual meeting. Participating in the Steering Group is estimated to take up 10 days of your time per year.

Question: Why are participants expected to pay a fee, make activity commitments, and - in some cases - also engage in solution projects?

As a collective impact initiative that has global ambitions there are three fundamental needs: funds to keep the collective alive so all our work is more impactful and efficient, mutually reinforcing activities that the participation commitments are designed to capture, and doing activities on the ground are an essential part of that.

Question: What does the commitment to ‘promote the GGGI’ mean in practice?

Where appropriate and where participants feel confident to do so, participants can inform others about the GGGI’s existence; make accurate statements about their involvement; share why it is important, what it aims to achieve; explain how one can participate, and how one can fund solution projects. For all commitments participants are asked to make their best efforts to meet them.

Question: What if a participant pays the standard fee but doesn’t comply with any of the standard commitments?

The GGGI will establish a grievance mechanism to allow any participant to highlight concerns, including this kind of issue.

Question: Is the GGGI a certification scheme/eco-label?

No, the GGGI is neither a certification scheme nor eco-label. Where relevant, the outputs of the GGGI should dovetail into existing certification schemes and/or eco labels. 

Question: What is the GGGI's legal status?

The GGGI is a voluntary, non-profit, initiative. Participation carries no legal rights or obligations. Participants assume a moral responsibility to advance the GGGI’s mission and aims and to respect the operating rules established by the GGGI’s governance mechanisms.

Question: How does the GGGI link to World Animal Protection's Sea Change campaign?

The GGGI is at the heart of World Animal Protection’s Sea Change campaign, which is tackling the problem of ghost fishing gear in three ways:

  • Reducing the volume of ghost gear entering the seas
  • Removing ghost gear that is already there
  • Rescuing animals who are already entangled.

World Animal Protection’s Sea Change campaign aims to save one million marine animals by 2018.

Through the Sea Change campaign World Animal Protection founded the GGGI and is currently providing Secretariat services. 

Question: I can't find an answer to my question within these FAQs

Please email the GGGI Secretariat with any questions and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.