Each year, over 800.000 tons of illegal ghost gear enter the marine ecosystem, causing entanglement of hundreds of thousands of marine animals and seabirds and capturing over one third of the global fish catch. The project 'Med Ghost FADs' aims to unite key actors and stakeholders to stop the alarming increase of ghost gear in the Mediterranean, a destructive fishing method which is threatening to reverse the positive effects of over 40 years of conservation work in the area.
What is ghost fishing and why is it a problem?
Ghost fishing, also known as ghost gear, refers to any lost, abandoned and otherwise discarded fishing equipment such as fishing nets, fish aggregation devices (FADs), longlines, traps etc. It is estimated that over 800.000 tons of ghost gear enter the marine ecosystems annually, threatening vulnerable species and habitats.
Ghost gear is often linked to Illegal, Unregulated or Unreported fishing (IUU) and includes the use of poor-quality fishing gear, often composed of plastic objects and materials which do not biodegrade.
In the open ocean ecosystem, fishing nets, FADs and longlines can drift for very long periods, casing the entanglement of all types of marine mammals, sharks, turtles, seabirds etc. They contribute to the transportation of persistent toxic compounds and invasive species and constitute a risk for boats and shipping. Sunken to the sea bed, they impact the sea floor and pose a threat to scuba divers. Washed up ashore, they contribute to the destruction of vulnerable habitats and may cause entanglement among land animals.
How are we fighting it?
Ghost fishing is a global threat to our marine environment, and therefore requires concerted effort at a global scale based on collaborative networks. For this reason, in 2020, Save The Med joined the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI), the world’s largest cross-sectoral alliance committed to driving solutions to the problem of ghost fishing.
By working together with GGGI, OceanCare and Fundación Palma Aquarium's Rescue Center for Marine Fauna, Save The Med is developing 'MED GHOST FADS', a new networking platform for a basin-wide concerted effort between public administrations, port authorities, research institutions, marine wildlife recovery centres, fishers, diving centres and navigators. United we can reduce this threat much more efficiently!
Framework and Stakeholders
The framework for MED GHOST FADs is the UN Environment Programme Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP MAP), the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), the FAO General Fisheries Commission of the Mediterranean, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), the Bonn Convention for Migratory Species (CMS) and the US Marine Turtle Conservation Act.
The stakeholders are divided in the following categories:
INTER GOVERNMENTAL AGENCIES
MARINE WILDLIFE RESCUE CENTRES
FISHERS AND FISHER ASSOCIATIONS
SAILORS, SAILING ASSOCIATIONS AND CHARTER COMPANIES
SPORTS FISHERS AND ASSOCIATIONS
The project is supported by the OceanCare, US Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) and LIBERA Project (SEO Birdlife - Ecoembes - Fundación Reina Sofía) and counts on the collaboration of SOCIB, UIB, NOAA and Palma Aquarium Foundation.
Register to become part of the network!
A separate website for the Med Ghost FAD Network will soon be publicly launched where you will be able to learn more about ghost gear, register to become part of the Network, contribute data from your region and collaborate in the development of risk management measures and action plans. By joining efforts we can multiply effects! Stay tuned for more information!
Should you like to get in touch with us for a collaboration related to this project, please visit www.ghostfads.org or contact email@example.com.
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