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VIDEO/PHOTOS: Over 4,700 Pounds of Trash Removed from the Gulf of Maine During Sailing Expedition with Ocean Conservancy, Rozalia Project

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BAR HARBOR, MAINE – From June 23-26, Ocean Conservancy’s Global Ghost Gear Initiative® (GGGI) partnered with the Rozalia Project for a sailing expedition with the aim of removing abandoned, lost, and discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) from remote islands in the Gulf of Maine. During the expedition, they were able to remove 4,723 pounds of gear and other marine debris. For a cleanup on Outer Bar Island, the group was also joined by several volunteers, including from the Maine Island Trail Association.

ALDFG, also known as ghost gear, is among the most prevalent and harmful forms of ocean plastic pollution: research indicates that ghost fishing gear makes up 46-70% of all floating macroplastics in the ocean gyres by weight and up to a 30% decline in some fish stocks can be attributed to ghost gear. Within the U.S., it’s been estimated that 20-25% of lobster pots are lost annually, and in Maine alone, 3 million pots are set every year, potentially adding at least 600,000 new ghost traps to Maine waters annually.

“We are proud to partner with local organizations like the Rozalia Project with the support of NOAA to directly address the ocean pollution crisis through cleanups and gear removals like this one. We look forward to continuing our work in Maine and with the Rozalia Project for a cleaner and healthier ocean for all,” said Chris Dorsett, Vice President of Conservation at Ocean Conservancy.

“Through Rozalia Project’s partnership with Ocean Conservancy and GGGI we were able to utilize federal funding from the NOAA Marine Debris Program to recover and record derelict lobster traps and gear from the Gulf of Maine. To be successful in this work, you have to connect with the community, and we did just that! Through the support of landowners, Maine Island Trails Association, the Corea lobster co-op, Waste Haulers, Recyclers, fisherman and residents of Corea, we were all able to come together for healthy oceans. Our goal is to celebrate what unites us, understand the challenges the lobster industry faces, share what the data is telling us while collectively working for solutions. Humans are capable of great things when it matters most, and we believe our oceans are worth fighting for,” said Ashley Sullivan, Executive Director of the Rozalia Project.

Here are the top items collected by weight during the trip:

  • Traps: 4,220 pounds
  • Rope: 530 pounds
  • Dock foam: 52 pounds
  • Buoys: 35 pounds
  • Bleach bottles: 31 pounds
  • Oil bottles: 14 pounds
  • Plastic drink bottles: 11 pounds
  • Other: 10 pounds

Total: 4,723 pounds

The GGGI is the world’s only alliance solely dedicated to solving the problem of ghost gear on a global scale. Participants will use the GGGI’s Ghost Gear Reporter app to record the gear that is collected. This data uploads to the GGGI’s global data portal, the world’s largest repository of ghost gear data.

The Rozalia Project is a non-profit dedicated to addressing the problem of marine debris. A longtime partner of Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup® (ICC), the Rozalia Project protects and cleans the ocean using technology, innovation, solutions-based research onboard their 60’ sailing vessel.  Since its founding, the Rozalia Project has removed over 1 million pieces of trash from our ocean and waterways and reached nearly 100,000 people of all ages and backgrounds through direct programs.

B-roll of cleanup and gear removal available here, interviews with Chris Dorsett from Ocean Conservancy, Ashley Sullivan from the Rozalia Project available here, and photos available here. Please attribute use of videos and photos to “Courtesy of Gigi Veve/Ocean Conservancy.”

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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 130 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 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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