On June 12, 2020, Jonathan Moore, the Department of State’s Senior Bureau Official for the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, signed a statement of support for the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI), pledging continued U.S. government support for addressing abandoned, lost, or discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) in our ocean.
Addressing marine debris, including ALDFG (also known as “ghost gear”), is a key administration priority. By signing this statement of support, the U.S. government joins more than eighty-five organizations and fifteen other countries in acknowledging the significant impact ghost gear has on marine ecosystems and human health and livelihoods. The U.S. government recognizes that mitigating these adverse impacts will require a global multi-stakeholder approach supporting a variety of multilateral initiatives such as the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Voluntary Guidelines on the Marking of Fishing Gear. The United States played a key role in drafting these guidelines, and GGGI serves as FAO’s sole civil society partner in implementing them.
Ghost gear is the main type of submerged marine debris; when improperly discarded in a natural environment, it can indiscriminately entangle fish and other animals while severely damaging marine habitats. An estimated 640,000 metric tons of ALDFG enter the ocean every year, and surveys suggest that derelict fishing gear comprises up to 70 percent of floating macro-plastics in the ocean by weight. ALDFG is the deadliest and most harmful form of marine debris to marine animals, primarily due to entanglement. Nearly 80 percent of animals that become entangled in ALDFG are injured or die as a result. GGGI is the preeminent international initiative addressing this problem of ghost gear and has broad representation across industry, government, and civil society. Managed by the Washington-based NGO Ocean Conservancy, GGGI conducts much needed work to quantify the impacts of ghost gear and to develop, share, and document best practices for addressing it.
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