GGGI in spotlight at SeaWeb Seafood Summit

The Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) was in the spotlight this month when GGGI participants representing different countries and sectors joined forces at the SeaWeb Seafood Summit in Malta.

To bring the ghost gear problem to life, we kicked off with a 2-day gear removal mission off the Malta coast in collaboration with local divers, the Healthy Seas initiative and the Ghost Fishing Foundation. The catch of the day was around 100 metres of lost long lines and 10 kilograms of gillnets that were continuing to catch fish and other marine animals indiscriminately and posing a risk to divers.

We then hosted our ‘Nets Big Thing’ event, where we were delighted to have industry leaders Sainsbury’s, Young’s Seafood and Albion Fisheries and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation promote the GGGI to a room full of global experts in seafood sustainability, marine science and fishing gear technology. This panel discussion stimulated frank and inspiring conversation about how innovation in fishing gear design, end-of-life recycling and collaborative ghost gear removal projects can generate positive change towards a more sustainable industry. This event resulted in a number of stakeholders committing their support for the GGGI.

Katherine George, GGGI Project Manager said:

We were delighted to have some of the most influential members of the seafood industry promoting the GGGI to their colleagues across the seafood supply chain. It was inspiring to see such engagement and enthusiasm for tackling the ghost gear problem together – we all want to see a more responsible and sustainable industry and the GGGI provides a practical means to achieve this.

We also hosted an exhibition kiosk throughout the conference promoting the work of GGGI participants including Australia's Northern Prawn Fishery who remove ghost gear from the Gulf of Carpentaria, UK-based company Fourth Element who make swimwear out of recycled fishing gear, the Northwest Straits Foundation who have dramatically cleaned Puget Sound in the U.S. of over 5,600 derelict fishing nets, the Olive Ridley Projectwho are actively fighting ghost nets in the Indian Ocean through removal, research and awareness, Canada's Steveston Harbourwho run a successful net recycling initiative and Fundy North Fishermen's Association who have pioneered ghost trap removal in the Bay of Fundy, the Healthy Seas initiative who remove ghost gear from European waters and recycle it into sustainable textiles including socks, and Pew who’ve recently released a report on fish aggregating devices which often get lost contributing the global ghost gear problem.

Our activities in Malta this week are just the beginning of a conversation about how collaboration, from industry-led change in fishing gear management and robust policy-making, to the work NGOs, scientists, politicians, divers and beach cleaners are doing to quantify and combat the problem at a global scale can hook into the wider sustainability conversation. It’s clear that for now ghost gear will remain on the table.