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Mexico Joins the Global Ghost Gear Initiative to Tackle Most Prevalent Form of Ocean Plastic Pollution

Mexico becomes the 17th national government to join global consortium combating the problem of abandoned, lost and discarded fishing gear.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. –  Today, the government of Mexico announced it has joined the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI), the world’s only cross-sectoral alliance dedicated to tackling the problem of abandoned, lost, or otherwise discarded fishing gear (also known as “ghost gear”) internationally. Mexico joins Canada, the United States, and 14 other national governments as a member of the initiative.

“As one of the world’s most populous countries with over 9,000 kilometers (5,800 miles) of coastline, Mexico’s commitment to stopping ghost gear through the GGGI is a tremendous win for the ocean and for the communities that depend on it,” said Ingrid Giskes, Director of the Global Ghost Gear Initiative at Ocean Conservancy. “We are excited to have them onboard as a member, and we look forward to opportunities for additional collaboration on this pressing issue across North America.”

“Ghost gear not only harms ocean life – it also impacts the well-being of all people who depend on the ocean,” said Martha Delgado, Undersecretary of Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights of Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Ministry. “By joining the GGGI, Mexico reinforces its international commitments to the protection of biodiversity, preservation of ecosystems and marine landscapes, and fight against pollution by marine litter and plastics, promoting the sustainable management of seas and coasts for the benefit of fishing communities.”

This commitment from all levels of the Mexican government – including the Secretariat of Economy, the Secretariat of the Armed Navy of Mexico, the Secretariat of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation and the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources, as well as agencies such as CONAPESCA, INAPESCA, PROFEPA and CONANP – will address the ghost gear issue holistically across the country. Mexico is also a member of the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, which examines the problems derived from ghost gear. Since 2016, the Mexican government has worked with WWF Mexico and the GGGI to remove more than 62 tons of ghost nets from the Sea of Cortez, home to the critically endangered vaquita.

Gear loss occurs wherever fishing takes place, often due to rough weather, snags beneath the surface, and marine traffic accidentally running it over and cutting it loose. Unfortunately, ghost gear is the single deadliest form of marine debris to sea life, continuing to catch and kill organisms long after it has been lost or discarded in the ocean. It is also one of the most prevalent: recent studies indicate that ghost fishing gear makes up 46-70% of all floating macroplastics in the ocean by weight. Globally, an estimated 90% of species caught in lost gear are of commercial value.

As a GGGI member, Mexico will work closely with the initiative to develop a national ghost gear action plan, including taking steps to better understand the scope of the problem in Mexican waters by mapping hotspot areas for gear loss and exploring opportunities to develop solutions across North American, Caribbean and Latin American countries.

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NOTES TO EDITOR

Additional information about WWF Mexico’s work removing ghost nets in the Sea of Cortez– and other important solutions and approaches to ghost gear – can be found in the GGGI’s and WWF’s joint Effective Ghost Gear Solutions report, released today. Read the report here.

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 100 stakeholder groups, including 17 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, mitigate 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 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.