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Global Ghost Gear Initiative Launches New Guidance to Prevent Aquaculture Gear Loss

The Best Practice Framework for the Management of Aquaculture Gear aims to tackle plastic pollution from the rapidly growing aquaculture industry

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Global Ghost Gear Initiative® (GGGI) released the Best Practice Framework for the Management of Aquaculture Gear (A-BPF), a first of its kind document that provides comprehensive guidance to aquaculture stakeholders on the best ways to prevent, remove and mitigate the effects of abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded gear, or ghost gear, in their work

“As the aquaculture sector continues to grow, action must be taken now to ensure that this growth does not lead to more ghost gear,” said Ingrid Giskes, GGGI director at Ocean Conservancy. “For more than five years, the GGGI has worked to develop best practices across wild caught fisheries; and it showed us that guidance is just as needed for aquaculture gear loss. We’re excited to release the A-BPF, and look forward to working with our partners to see it implemented.”

Aquaculture is the world’s fastest growing food producing sector, with outputs expected to grow by over a third by 2030. Though global losses of aquaculture gear, which is often made of plastic, are lower in volume than from fishing, the growth of aquaculture as a sector/food production system means that changes made in that sector can have an outsized impact for our waters.

Gear loss from aquaculture occurs for several reasons, including low-level losses through routine farming operations; extreme weather; inadequate planning and management; and intentional discard where other options are limited, oversight is sparse, and costs for proper disposal are high. The A-BPF contains guidance for stakeholders across the aquaculture industry, from gear manufacturers to aquaculture operators to seafood companies, on all of these challenges.

“We applaud the unique nature and importance of this Framework, outlining best practice approaches for aquaculture, and raising awareness of the need to do everything we can to prevent plastics entering the ocean,” said Martin Exel, managing director of SeaBOS. “As GGGI members, SeaBOS will support implementation of the Framework amongst our members, and broader.”

“The guidance and documents published by the GGGI regarding abandoned, lost and discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) have served to bring the industry together to consider and implement actions that have helped combat the very real risks that ghost gear poses to the marine environment,” said Tracy Cambridge, responsible sourcing director (Europe) at Thai Union. “We firmly believe that this new framework will play the same role in raising awareness of the impact that ghost gear from aquaculture can have and look forward to working together with GGGI and other industry partners to drive continuous improvement across the seafood industry.”

“As a sector, we must do everything within our control to help ensure we are mitigating our impact and removing plastic and marine debris from our ocean,” said Sophie Ryan, CEO of the Global Salmon Initiative (GSI).  “These best practice guidelines will help move the aquaculture sector closer to this critical goal. Global Salmon Initiative’s salmon farmer members will be using the GGGI framework as part of our collective platform to accelerate the transition to a more circular economy, and act as a catalyst for proven and innovative approaches like this.”

Launched in 2015 and hosted by Ocean Conservancy since 2019, the GGGI is the only cross-sectoral alliance that addresses the problem of abandoned fishing gear worldwide. In 2017, the GGGI launched a Best Practice Framework for the Management of Fishing Gear (C-BPF) for wild capture fisheries, which has been implemented by fishers, governments, and other actors across the seafood supply chain. Both the A-BPF and C-BPF underwent extensive stakeholder review in 2021 to ensure the most up to date science and case studies are incorporated into this guidance.

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About the Global Ghost Gear Initiative

The Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) is the only cross-sectoral alliance dedicated to solving the problem of abandoned, lost, or otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) – widely referred to as “ghost gear” – around the world. The GGGI brings together more than 120 member organizations, including 18 national governments as well as representatives from civil society, the private sector, public agencies, academia, intergovernmental organizations, and others from across the fishing industry to tackle ghost gear at a global scale. Since its founding in 2015, the GGGI has worked to implement a wide variety of approaches to ghost gear across prevention, mitigation and remediation strategies, shaping fisheries management policy and building the evidence base around the prevalence and impact of this pervasive global threat. In 2017, the GGGI developed the Best Practice Framework for the Management of Fishing Gear, which was updated in June, 2021 and has been adopted by a range of seafood companies and in national and regional marine litter and fisheries management action plans. The GGGI has made meaningful change on the ground in fishing economies and communities, partnering with local fishers to remove ghost gear in places like the Gulf of Maine, Myanmar, and Vanuatu. Learn more at www.ghostgear.org.

About Ocean Conservancy

Ocean Conservancy is working to protect the ocean from today’s greatest global challenges. Together with our partners, we create science-based solutions for a healthy ocean and the wildlife and communities that depend on it. For more information, visit www.oceanconservancy.org,  or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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