Global Ghost Gear Initiative convenes diverse participants for successful third annual meeting

The Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) convened in Miami, Florida on October 13-14 for its third annual meeting, the first one since its launch in 2015. With participants from the fishing industry, the private sector (including seafood and recycling companies), research and funding institutions, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations, the meeting was a productive opportunity to review the GGGI's numerous achievements over the last year, establish priorities for the year to come, and elect the GGGI's 2016-17 Steering Group. 

Since its launch, the GGGI has doubled the number of its participants, who are global in nature.

More than 40 attendees from around the world took part in the 2016 GGGI meeting, and heard updates and future plans from the GGGI's three working groups, which focus on, respectively, building evidence, defining best practice and informing policies, and catalyzing and replicating solutions. 

The GGGI's wide-ranging achievements over the past year include:

  • A kick-start to the development of a data portal for monitoring ghost gear proliferation and hotspots, as well as types of gear lost, with input and leadership from CSIRO as part of the Building Evidence working group.  

  • Through the GGGI’s Defining Best Practices and Policies working group, a robust draft Best Practice Framework for the management of fishing gear at the different stages of its life has been developed. The Framework was drafted by the GGGI working group with input from Tim Huntington of Poseidon, and will be sent out for consultation to a wide range of stakeholders, including industry. When completed, the Best Practice Framework will provide valuable guidance for seafood companies, fishers, gear manufacturers and certification bodies on best practice measures for preventing ghost gear from entering our oceans.

  • Multiple collaborative GGGI ghost gear solution projects have been started, including a net recycling pilot in Scotland with KIMO UK in collaboration with fellow GGGI participant Plastix, a gear recovery and mapping project in Alaska with the Douglas Indian Association (DIA), and a fully circular-economy ghost gear project in Pakistan by Olive Ridley Project, which is due to commence by the end of the year.

The GGGI has also gained recognition as a collaborative and innovative platform, raising the profile of ghost gear as a global issue of note. A representative from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Mr. Petri Suuronen, highlighted that in July 2016, Member States at the 32nd United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)’s biennial Committee on Fisheries (COFI) meeting supported the adoption of a Technical Consultation for the development of International Guidelines for the Marking of Fishing Gear. FAO will next convene governments and other organizations to develop these guidelines so they can be adopted and implemented internationally. While seemingly simple, gear marking allows for gear to be traced back to its source. It enables fishers to retrieve gear they have accidentally lost, dissuades them from deliberately abandoning it, and helps identify fishing activity happening illegally.

Looking forward, the GGGI hopes to continue to establish its work as business critical. The GGGI is a key platform to deliver UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14.1, which calls on governments to prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds (including ghost fishing gear) by 2025.

The GGGI's newly elected 2016-17 steering group, which will be driving the work of the GGGI forward, includes representatives from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) (U.S.), Young's Seafood (UK), Steveston Harbour Authority (Canada), MCB Seafoods (UK), and World Animal Protection.

Steve McIvor, CEO of World Animal Protection, said, “With the GGGI, we are delivering an initiative that is perfectly poised between the capacity for change driven by political engagement and the ability to motivate, engage and have real-life impact alongside the business community. To do this in a matter of three years and be ready to springboard into something quite extraordinary with all players aligned and with a common intent is rare indeed. Through our collective efforts, I am confident that the GGGI will be able to achieve global solutions to the problem of ghost gear at scale.

Ingrid Giskes, GGGI Steering Group Member and Head of Sea Change at World Animal Protection, said, “The GGGI has delivered so much in just one year since its launch, and we are so proud of the huge achievements of our participants and of the global recognition we are beginning to receive. It is exciting to see that the external world is catching up and that the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have recognized the huge problem of marine litter in SDG 14. We are convinced that the GGGI as a platform can bring the coordinated and collective approach that is needed to deliver on the ambitions of SDG 14, and can help formulate a much-needed concerted plan of action. In addition, the draft Best Practice Guidelines will be consulted on in 2017 and offer a tool for industry and key global seafood companies to make tangible changes in their supply chains. We are committed to continuing our integrated work to realize our ambitious goals.”

Joel Baziuk, GGGI Steering Group member and Operations Supervisor for Steveston Harbour Authority said, “I’m really excited about what we’ve accomplished in the GGGI’s first year. The Best Practice Framework is now a very concrete document that we can use to push forward. We’re already exceeding our expectations, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the GGGI’s global impact. A lot of really great solutions are happening all over the world, and one of the GGGI’s aims is to make sure that these are catalyzed and replicated in other parts of the world.”

Tom Barry, GGGI Steering Group Member and Cooperative Agreements Specialist at the NOAA Marine Debris Program, said, “The GGGI is unique because it brings together such a diverse group of stakeholders and sectors working together to solve the problem of ghost gear. I’m excited to see the GGGI grow and continue to elaborate on its mission and achieve its goals to hopefully get to a point where one day ghost gear is not an issue for the marine environment.”

The GGGI thanks all our participants and look forward to all that we will continue to achieve together in 2017!

The GGGI is open to new participants. For more information on participating in the GGGI, please click here or contact our Secretariat on gggi@worldanimalprotection.org

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