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A Voice for our Ocean

MEDIA BRIEFING: Ocean Conservancy Urges Countries to Adopt Ghost Gear Provisions in Upcoming Round of Global Plastics Treaty Negotiations

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United Nations will host the second formal round of negotiations (INC-2) for an international legally binding instrument (ILBI) on plastic pollution from May 29-June 2 in Paris. Widely known as the “global plastics treaty,” the agreement aims to curb the global plastic pollution crisis, of which the ocean often bears the brunt; and yet, abandoned, lost, or discarded fishing gear (ALDFG or “ghost gear”) – a major source of plastic pollution and the deadliest to ocean wildlife – has been largely absent from the conversation. As a UN-accredited negotiating organization advocating for policy solutions to ghost gear worldwide through its Global Ghost Gear Initiative, Ocean Conservancy is calling on countries to put forward strong ghost gear provisions before it’s too late.

“The vast majority of fishing gear is made of plastics, meaning once in the ocean, rivers, or lakes, it never fully goes away,” said Joel Baziuk, Associate Director of Ocean Conservancy’s Global Ghost Gear Initiative and a 20-year veteran of the Canadian fishing industry. “And because fishing gear is designed to trap and kill marine life, it can continue to do so indefinitely. Ghost gear is not only devastating for our ocean, but for the fishers and communities that depend on it for their livelihoods.”

“We simply cannot address the plastic pollution crisis in our ocean without addressing the prevalence and impact of ghost gear. It is the elephant seal in the room,” said Nicholas Mallos, Ocean Conservancy’s Vice President of Conservation, Ocean Plastics. “We call on every country involved in the treaty negotiation to adopt strong ghost gear provisions at this stage.”

Recent studies indicate that ghost gear accounts for up to 70% of all floating macroplastics in ocean gyres by weight. Ocean Conservancy research has found that ghost gear is the single deadliest form of marine debris, and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimates that an up to 30% decline in some fish stocks can be attributed to ghost gear.

Despite this, fishing gear was not mentioned in the treaty resolution adopted in March 2022. The UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) Secretariat also invited countries to submit written recommendations ahead of INC-2 on objectives, core obligations, means of implementation, and other elements that should be included in the ILBI. So far, the issue of fishing and ghost gear has scantly been mentioned in these submissions. Furthermore, very few countries have any form of regulations related to the management of lost or abandoned gear, and no international agreement for the management of ghost gear exists.

Ocean Conservancy invites members of the media and the public to join a briefing and Q&A session on the status of the treaty negotiations and the crucial missing piece of ghost gear, among other priorities. Speakers will include Joel Baziuk, Associate Director of Ocean Conservancy’s Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI); Dr. Anja Brandon, Ocean Conservancy’s Associate Director of U.S. Plastics Policy; and Felipe Victoria, Ocean Conservancy’s Senior Policy Manager, International Plastics.

A fact sheet about ghost gear can be found HERE.

A fact sheet about the ILBI and Ocean Conservancy’s priorities can be found HERE.

  • Joel Baziuk, Associate Director of Ocean Conservancy’s Global Ghost Gear Initiative
  • Dr. Anja Brandon, Ocean Conservancy’s Associate Director of U.S. Plastics Policy
  • Felipe Victoria, Ocean Conservancy’s Senior Policy Manager, International Plastics
WHAT: Webinar with plastics scientists and policy experts highlighting the latest updates on the UN plastics treaty and the missing elements needed in the next round of negotiations.
WHEN: Tuesday, April 25, 2023

12 PM ET

WHERE: Zoom and YouTube
TO REGISTER: Members of the media may register HERE and will have the opportunity to ask questions in real-time.

The event will be livestreamed to the public HERE. Questions can be submitted in advance via Facebook (@oceanconservancy), Instagram (@oceanconservancy) and Twitter (@OurOcean).


Joel Baziuk

Joel is the Associate Director of the Ocean Conservancy-hosted Global Ghost Gear Initiative. Joel is based in British Columbia and before joining the GGGI worked for 20 years in the Canadian fishing industry, 13 of which were as Operations Supervisor for Steveston Harbour Authority, Canada’s largest commercial fishing harbor. During his time at Steveston Harbour, Joel started an end-of-life net recycling program to find a sustainable way to dispose of end-of-life fishing nets. In three years, this program managed to recycle some 150,000 kg of end-of-life nets. Baziuk is also a recipient of the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans Prix d’Excellence (2016) and a 2017 Canada’s Clean50 Honouree in relation to his net recycling work.

Dr. Anja Brandon

Dr. Anja Brandon is the Associate Director of U.S. Plastics Policy at Ocean Conservancy working to advance policy solutions at the state and federal level to eliminate plastic pollution and support the transition to a circular economy. Most recently Anja was part of the team of environmental advocates that helped draft and pass the strongest plastics legislation in the country, SB 54 in California. Dr. Brandon has been an invited speaker and lecturer on plastics policy and her scientific work at national and international conferences and at universities including Stanford, Oregon State University, and Bennington College. Prior to joining Ocean Conservancy, Anja was the AGU/AAAS Congressional Science Fellow in the office of U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), where she was the lead policy advisor on issues including plastics, ocean and water pollution, and toxic pollutants. Anja holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering and Science from Stanford University where she was awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship for her work. Her doctoral research focused on understanding plastic waste management challenges and developing novel methods to break down common plastics.

Felipe Victoria

Felipe is the Senior Manager for Policy and International Plastics at Ocean Conservancy. In this role, he leads international policy work with multilateral bodies and international governments, across a wide array of marine pollution and conservation issues, including the international legally binding instrument to address plastic pollution. Felipe joined Ocean Conservancy after spending over five years with the United Nations in New York. There, his portfolio included issues under the UN Economic and Social Chamber (ECOSOC), the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), and other UN System-related organizations and fora. Felipe has a Spanish Law degree from the Complutense University of Madrid, a master’s in diplomacy and international relations and a specialized diploma in EU Law and Institutions from the Spanish Diplomatic School. He also holds a master’s degree in international trade and business management from the Menendez Pelayo International University of Spain and the Spanish Ministry of Economy.


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


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 150 stakeholder groups, including 20 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 preventative, mitigative and curative approaches to ghost gear, shaping fisheries management policy and building the evidence base around the prevalence and impact of this threat. In 2017, the GGGI developed the Best Practice Framework for the Management of Fishing Gear, which 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, Panama City, and Vanuatu. Learn more at

Media Contact

Roya Hegdahl



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