Joanna Toole Annual Ghost Gear Solutions Award

Jo Toole 1.JPG

June 8, 2019 - Today, on World Oceans Day, World Animal Protection is announcing a new award in honour of Global Ghost Gear Initiative co-founder, United Nations worker, and former World Animal Protection campaigner, Joanna (Jo) Toole 36, who tragically died in the Ethiopian airlines crash in March.

Joanna was en route to a UN meeting where she was to host a panel on how to tackle abandoned, lost and otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG), also known as ghost gear - one of the biggest threats to marine life in our ocean.

The Joanna Toole annual Ghost Gear Solutions Award will be given to the most deserving project that has submitted its strategy to tackle ghost gear. Entries will be reviewed by ghost gear experts from the GGGI and World Animal Protection. Ultimately, the award will make our ocean a better and safer place - something that Jo dedicated her professional life to achieving. The annual recipient will be awarded at least USD $40,000. The application form can be downloaded here.

In 2014, World Animal Protection’s Sea Change team, co-led by Jo Toole, established the GGGI – the world’s preeminent 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.  The GGGI currently brings together close to 100 partners including the fishing industry, the private sector, academia, governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.

Ghost gear is, by far, the most harmful form of marine debris. In addition to reducing harvestable fish stocks by 5-30% depending on geography, ghost gear is four times more likely to impact on marine life through entanglement than all other forms of marine debris combined.  Every year more than 100,000 whales, dolphins, seals and turtles get caught in abandoned or lost fishing nets, lines and traps, and the fishing industry incurs millions of dollars in lost revenue and cleanup costs.

Joanna’s father, Adrian Toole, said: “Joanna's work to protect our oceans and the life within them was not a job - it was her life. Since she was a little girl she knew that when she grew up she wanted a job where she could help animals - at World Animal Protection, Ocean Care and at the United Nations she was doing that every day.

“Our family is so proud that Jo lived her dream and we know the Joanna Toole annual Ghost Gear Solutions Award will continue her legacy to make a positive difference for our oceans Jo worked so hard to protect.”

In memory of Joanna, her family have also established a JustGiving page to raise funding for this award.

Joel Baziuk