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Commercial Fishing



Progress being made on ghost fishing gear. The second edition of World Animal Protection’s (WAP) ‘Ghosts Beneath the Waves’ report of the world’s 25 leading seafood companies has found that some are making good progress in stopping their lost fishing gear from killing millions of uncollected fish, as well as large numbers of marine animals, every year.

They ranked the companies in tiers 1 (best) to 5 (worst) on their performance on tackling the problem of ghost gear. No companies have achieved Tier 1 status. However, Thai Union , Tri Marine and Bolton Group entered Tier 2 for the first time and have now made ghost gear best practice integral to their business strategy.

The average score for the 15 companies covered in both the 2018 and 2019 assessments has increased from 23% to 30%, with seven companies moving up one or more tiers.

However, WAP says despite good progress over the last year, the report shows there is much more work to be done to tackle the ghost gear menace

  • The average score landed in the middle of tier 4
  • Only nine of the 25 companies currently acknowledge ghost gear as an issue
  • Only two publicly report on how they take action on ghost gear

According to WAP, the impact on animals

  • Over 136,000 whales, dolphins, seals and turtles are caught in ghost gear every year
  • Up to 30% of the decline in some fish stocks can be attributed to ghost gear
  • Lost gear is four times more likely to trap and kill marine animals than all other forms of marine debris combined
  • More than 70% of macroplastics (larger plastic pieces) in the ocean are fishing related
  • It can take up to 600 years to break down

WAP founded the GGGI in 2015 as an alliance dedicated to tackling the problem of ghost fishing gear at a global scale. This diverse initiative boasts NGOs, governments, and companies as members. In 2018, we’re transitioning the role of GGGI lead partner to Ocean Conservancy, a US-based marine conservation organisation.

Their report shows that companies who join the GGGI are much better at tackling the issue of ghost gear and protecting our oceans.

Ingrid Giskes, their global head of campaign – Sea Change, said: “Over the last year the seafood industry has really stepped up to tackle ghost gear and is now taking its responsibilities much more seriously.

“Companies, governments and other stakeholders have acknowledged ghost gear is a major problem that requires dedicated action.”