Addressing Ghost Gear That Threatens Cetacean Populations

Posted on Oct 21, 2016 in Threats to Cetaceans

Do you know that we leave 640,000 tons of abandoned, lost and discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) in our oceans each year? This “ghost gear” continues to fish for decades causing entrapments, entanglements and ingestion to many different species, including cetaceans! In fact, one of the leading threats to many cetacean populations is entanglements in fishing gear.

Through the World Cetacean Alliance (WCA), Cet Law, attended this year’s annual Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) which took place in Miami October 13-14. The GGGI is a cross-sectoral alliance committed to driving solutions to the problem of lost and abandoned fishing gear worldwide. This year’s meeting included participants from the fishing industry, the private sector (including seafood and recycling companies), research and funding institutions, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations.  It is by searching from these different perspectives and collaborating together that solutions to this ever-increasing problem will be found.

Cet Law’s participation included joining into the Defining Best Practices and Policy working group which has drafted a framework for the management of fishing gear at the different stages of life. This framework is currently undergoing a consultation process seeking broad stakeholder input. Cet Law will continue to contribute to this initiative as a new partner to the GGGI and through participation in the working group.

Clarie Potter Designs and Cet Law, both representing the WCA, together gave a presentation on the WCA’s work to combat ghost gear through its Net Effects campaign and Untangled project. This year the Net Effects campaign trained six whale watching interns on the issues related to ghost gear. After training it was out into the field with various responsible whale watching partners in Argentina, Brazil, Mozambique, South Africa, Spain and the USA. While working with the whale watching operators as deckhands and naturalists, WCA interns disseminated information to customers on the whale watching boats. The second project, Untangled, uses fishing gear and other trash recovered from the ocean in pieces of art, such as this beautiful chandelier by Claire Potter Designs.