New guidelines have been launched at the SeaWeb Summit in Seattle which seeks to minimize the negative impact of ghost fishing gear in the ocean.

The Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) developed the Best Practice Framework (BPF) for the Management of Fishing Gear. This is said to the first of its kind in the world, the only one that recommends practical solutions and other approaches to help rid the ocean of ghost fishing which will include the entire seafood supply chain. The seafood companies, port operator, and manufacturers have all been included.

What is ghost gear? These are the abandoned, discarded, or lost fishing equipment in the seas. There is now a major concern for these as they are said to be harming the ocean ecosystem and fisheries. Stats show that there are about 640,000 tons of lost fishing gears every year where they end up in estuaries, oceans, and bays. It does not matter if these were accidentally or intentionally discarded; these will remain where they are for hundreds of years where they could pose a threat to marine life, pollute the ocean, or cause significant loss for fisheries or marine communities.

The initiative attracted more than 40 organizations from the fishing communities, NGOs, and seafood industry. These participated in the 10-week consultation process which helped them come up with the final document.

According to Campaign Manager for Oceans and Wildlife at World Animal Protection Lynn Kavanagh, advancements in fishing gear design, fishing policies, and sourcing decisions will result to significant reduction of the impact that ghost gear have on wildlife, ecosystems, and livelihoods. She adds that the framework is recommending practical and detailed approaches that will help eliminate ghost gear where these are backed by case studies. Initiatives will include the likes of gear removal activities, recycling, and fishing management policy adjustments.

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