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A Voice for Our Ocean

Ocean Conservancy Assumes Leadership of Global Ghost Gear Initiative ahead of Our Ocean Conference

Transition Represents Significant Expansion of NGO’s Trash Free Seas® Program

Bali, INDONESIA – At its annual meeting this week and just ahead of the fifth Our Ocean Conference in Bali, the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) announced that Washington-based NGO Ocean Conservancy will assume leadership of the platform beginning in January 2019. As Lead Partner, Ocean Conservancy will steer the GGGI through its next years, continuing to scale up its impact and influence worldwide in the fight against lost or abandoned fishing gear (known as “ghost gear”)—one of the most significant sources of ocean plastic and the deadliest to marine life. The initiative will be housed under Ocean Conservancy’s growing Trash Free Seas® program, which currently mobilizes the annual International Coastal Cleanup and convenes the Trash Free Seas® Alliance, a forum for conservation, science and industry leaders to identify solutions to the ocean plastic crisis.

“We simply cannot address the ocean plastic crisis without addressing the threat of ghost gear,” said Nick Mallos, director of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas® program, “which is why we are so thrilled to take on this important partnership. Whether it’s lost at sea during storms or dumped illegally to avoid fines or legal action, the outcomes are the same: marine animals and commercially valuable fish are killed and vital underwater habitats destroyed as ghost gear drifts throughout the world’s ocean. And these items—nets, long lines, fish traps, lobster pots—are a major contributor to ocean plastic.”

More research needs to be done to understand just how much ghost gear is lost at sea each year; but in the infamous North Pacific Gyre (also known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch), nearly half of all large plastic debris found at the surface is ghost gear. Recent studies indicate that ghost gear is four times more likely to harm marine life through entanglement than all other forms of marine debris combined, with staggering impacts on food security, fisheries sustainability and ultimately, the bottom line of the fishing industry.

Launched by World Animal Protection in September 2015, the GGGI is dedicated to tackling the problem of ghost fishing gear on a global scale, with more than 100 member organizations representing the fisheries sector, industry, retail corporations, academia, nonprofits and inter-governmental organizations. These include the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations, the United Nations Environment Programme and 13 national governments are now signatories to the GGGI statement of support. Its mandate is to create solutions that remove ghost gear from the ocean, and to design and implement policies that prevent gear loss in the first place. In 2017, GGGI launched a ground-breaking Best Practice Framework for the Management of Fishing Gear, which recommends practical solutions and approaches to prevent and mitigate the impacts of lost fishing gear across the entire seafood supply chain, from gear manufacturers to port operators to the fishing industry.

“We are excited to announce this new partnership with Ocean Conservancy,” expressed Ingrid Giskes, Chair of the GGGI and Global Head of Campaigns Sea Change at World Animal Protection. “Ocean Conservancy and World Animal Protection both understand that success comes from the collective strength and impact of our respective member organisations, and that integration could leverage this even more. We look forward to build on strong foundations of the GGGI and continue to draw on the enthusiasm and expertise of our partners to we can use our collective impact to make a real dent in the targets for the Sustainable Development Goals and tackle ghost gear at scale.”

The GGGI will be announcing a number of commitments at the Our Ocean Conference next week in Bali with the goal of reaching a break-even point by 2030 in which the global tonnage of gear that is lost in the ocean annually is equal to or smaller than the amount of gear that is recovered, recycled and re-used.

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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.

About World Animal Protection

World Animal Protection has moved the world to protect animals for more than 50 years. World Animal Protection works to give animals a better life. The organization’s activities include working with companies to ensure high standards of welfare for the animals in their care; working with governments and other stakeholders to prevent wild animals being cruelly traded, trapped or killed; and saving the lives of animals and the livelihoods of the people who depend on them in disaster situations. World Animal Protection influences decision-makers to put animals on the global agenda and inspires people to change animals’ lives for the better.