A seal caught in ghost fishing gear

UK government joins fight against marine debris


The UK government has recognized the urgent need to address the 640,000 tons of discarded fishing gear – or “ghost gear” – left in the oceans each year.

We are delighted to announce that the UK government will be pledging their support for the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI), committing to address the significant amount of marine debris caused by lost and discarded fishing gear. The announcement was made last month at the Our Ocean Conference in Malta.

This announcement represents an exciting step forward for the alliance, and will help to raise awareness of this largely under-reported issue. 


Ghost gear on Perranporth beach in Cornwall, UK.

Commonly known as “ghost gear”, abandoned, lost and discarded fishing nets, lines and traps can lurk in our oceans for up to 600 years, and are one of the biggest and most potent threats to sea life and the health of marine ecosystems.

It has been found to trap, injure, mutilate and kill hundreds of thousands of whales, seals, turtles and birds annually. Devastating reports show that over 817 species of marine life are affected by this marine litter.

Next: Find out which other nations joined the GGGI in 2017

The amount of ghost gear entering the ocean has increased in recent years and is likely to grow further as fishing efforts intensify, creating wide-ranging problems for the marine environment and costing governments millions of dollars in clean-up expenses.

Our UK Director Stephen Sibbald has welcomed this latest announcement. “Effective solutions are being found locally and nationally, yet a global approach is needed for the problem of ghost gear to be monitored and solved at scale, " he said.

"Governments and industry are part of this solution, which is why we are delighted that the UK Government is tacking concrete action by backing the GGGI.”

“The GGGI has more than 80 participants who are driving innovative solutions from removing gear from our oceans to converting recycled nets to skateboards and swimwear. Our alliance already includes representatives from the fishing industry, the private sector, academia, governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations. Every participant has a critical role to play to mitigate ghost gear locally, regionally and globally. We hope that this new announcement will encourage other industry and government representatives to join our effort to eliminate ghost gear and create safer, cleaner oceans.”

In 2015, the United Nations established 17 ambitious global targets, known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Goal 14 is entirely focussed on our oceans and calls for a significant reduction of marine pollution of all kinds, including ghost gear by 2025.

We started the GGGI in response to the growing pressure to reduce marine litter and meet United Nations commitments.

Find out more about our work with the GGGI and our other initatives to protect marine animals >

Governments and industry are part of this solution, which is why we are delighted that the UK Government is tacking concrete action by backing the GGGI.

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