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Dispatches on Ghost Gear from Our Ocean 2019

Find out how the Global Ghost Gear Initiative made waves in Oslo

Entangled by Morgan Bennett Smith Ocean Conservancy
© Morgan Bennett Smith / Ocean Conservancy

Ingrid Giskes is the Director of the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI), where she works to tackle the most harmful form of marine debris in our ocean: lost and abandoned fishing gear. She has a background in international policy and has been working in this field for the last seven years. When she’s not traveling,  Ingrid lives across from the ocean where the waves and ocean life inspire her every day to do more. Follow Ingrid and her team on Twitter at @Igiskes and @GGGInitiative and learn more about this Ocean Conservancy program on www.ghostgear.org.

How do you say “Ghost Gear” in Norwegian?

It was the question on my mind during the sixth annual Our Ocean conference in Oslo, Norway, as marine experts and world leaders alike came together to discuss some of the biggest threats facing our ocean and commit to solutions. From shipping in the Arctic to the latest reports on ocean plastic, governments, corporations and NGOs all made significant announcements.

Some of the most exciting news of the conference came from the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI). The issue of ghost gear (abandoned, lost, or otherwise discarded fishing gear) has made news in recent months, and with good reason: recent studies have suggested that up to 70% of floating macroplastics in our ocean water column may be fishing related when measured by weight.

On the second day of the conference, the GGGI hosted a side event with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. It was standing room only as throngs of people joined to hear about solutions to tackling ghost gear and find out what commitments would be made. Here are three of the BIG announcements from the GGGI at Our Ocean 2019:

Ten of the world’s largest seafood providers announced they are joining the initiative.

The Seafood Businesses for Ocean Stewardship initiative (SeaBOS) announced that it is joining the GGGI. SeaBOS represents ten of the world’s largest seafood companies and is collectively the largest seafood industry group in the world, making up 15% of the global market share. While there are many entities that need to take action to solve the ghost gear problem, the seafood industry is a large piece of the puzzle. The sheer size of the global fishing industry combined with the lifespan of plastic fishing gear, makes ghost gear a long-term threat to the world’s sea life and the economies that depend on it. The commitment from SeaBOS sends a strong message that the global seafood industry is committed to tackling the problem in a tangible way, including tracking their progress through data collection, incorporating best practices in their supply chains, supporting innovative solutions and by adding their voice to our collective.

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© Joel Baziuk

Norway joined the GGGI.

At Thursday’s side event Ola Elvestuen, Minister of Climate and Environment for Norway officially signed on to the GGGI on behalf of the Government of Norway. Norway is the 15th government to join the initiative, and one of the largest seafood providers in the European Union. As the hosts of Our Ocean 2019, Norway has already shown its eagerness to protect marine ecosystems and the communities that depend on them: national laws that dictate that anyone who loses gear or cuts it adrift is obliged to search for it and report it if it cannot be retrieved. By joining the GGGI, they are committing to sharing their knowledge and resources with more than 100 other entities in the initiative, and continuing to develop best practices for managing fishing gear.

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© Joel Baziuk

In her remarks at the Youth Leadership Summit, Ocean Conservancy Chief Executive Officer Janis Searles Jones formally announced the Joanna Toole Internship.

Named in memory of one of the co-founders of the GGGI who was tragically killed in the March 2019 Ethiopian Airlines crash, the internship will give an aspiring conservationist the opportunity to work on projects to protect the ocean and those that depend on it from the effects of ghost gear. The intern will work with Ocean Conservancy, Ocean Care, the Center for Coastal Studies and the Joanna Toole Foundation to carry on Joanna’s conservation legacy. You can apply to the internship here.

While Our Ocean 2019 may be over, the movement to end ocean plastic and ghost gear is not. You can keep up with the GGGI by following them on Twitter at @GGGInitiative, or keep an eye out for more “spøkelse utstyr” news on Ocean Conservancy’s blog.

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© Joel Baziuk

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