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MEDIA ADVISORY: Global Ghost Gear Initiative, FAO Training Off Panama Coast Arms Divers to Tackle Ghost Gear Threat

Washington, D.C. — On Thursday, November 21 and Friday, November 22, the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI), the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the Government of Panama will train a group of over 70 individuals — including 16 divers – from all over the world in the safe removal of abandoned, discarded or lost fishing gear, also known as ghost gear, off the coast of Panama. Immediately following the GGGI’s sixth annual meeting, the training is part of a larger six-day workshop, the fourth in a series hosted this year by the GGGI in an effort to raise awareness of and implement its Best Practices Framework to tackle the threat of ghost gear around the world.

Established in 2015, the GGGI is the world’s only cross-sectoral alliance committed to driving solutions to the problem of lost and abandoned fishing gear in our marine environment on a global scale; Ocean Conservancy assumed leadership of the GGGI in 2019.

“Ghost gear continues to trap and kill long after it has entered the water, and that’s bad news for marine life and the fishers and coastal communities that depend on a healthy ocean,” said Ingrid Giskes, director of the GGGI. “To make a dent in this problem, we need to prevent gear loss by building capacity on the ground on proper gear management techniques; but we also need to expand the pool of local professionals able to tackle the problem in the water, and that’s what this workshop will accomplish.”

The training will cover key components of developing a successful ghost gear diver removal program, including ghost gear location, planning, permitting, removal, disposal,  and safety and environmental considerations. The workshop will provide guidance on developing a ghost gear recovery program specific to the Caribbean and Latin America, as well as provide an in-water experience of lost net recovery and PADI Ghost Gear Recovery certification to select participants.

While scientists estimate that approximately 8 million metric tons of plastic enters the ocean from land every year, the amount of fishing gear remains largely unknown. Best estimates state that upwards of 640,000 tons of ghost gear is lost; however, emerging science suggests these numbers may be much higher. A 2015 report by Ocean Conservancy scientists showed that ghost gear – which continues to ensnare and harm marine life long after it has entered the water — is the deadliest form of marine debris.

To date, the GGGI has conducted gear retrieval trainings in Panama and Vanuatu and numerous workshops educating fishers around the world on fishing gear management.

Note to media: Limited spots are available on the boat to observe the gear removal and training in action; please contact Maddie Black at mblack@oceanconservancy.org if interested in traveling with the crew. Photos and video footage will be available following the training.

WHO:
  • Leaders from the Global Ghost Gear Initiative under Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas® program – Ingrid Giskes, Director of the GGGI and Joel Baziuk, Deputy Director of the GGGI
  • Representatives of the Government of Panama, including Flor Torrijos, Director, Autoridad de los Recursos Acuáticos de Panamá (ARAP)
  • Representatives from the FAO, including Jonathan Lansley, Technical Fisheries Officer, Fishing Operations and Technology Branch (FIAO), UN FAO
WHAT: On- and in-the-water dive training to remove lost and abandoned fishing gear near Taboga and Farallon Island.
WHEN: Friday,  November 22, 2019; 8:30 AM-12:00 PM.
WHERE: The boat will depart from Diablo Harbor at 8:30 AM.
CONTACT: Maddie Black, Communications Coordinator, Ocean Conservancy
mblack@oceanconservancy.org
201-874-0445

Jordana Merran, Communications Manager, Ocean Conservancy
jmerran@oceanconservancy.org
301.873.4484

 

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About the Global Ghost Gear Initiative

Launched in September 2015 and founded on the best available science and technology, the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) is the first global collective impact alliance dedicated to tackling the problem of ghost fishing gear at a global scale. The GGGI’s strength lies in the diversity of its participants, including fishing industry, private sector, academia, governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. Every participant has a critical role to play to mitigate the effects of ghost gear locally, regionally and globally. 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 FacebookTwitter or Instagram.