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Region:    Global

Best practice framework for reducing debris from aquaculture  Regional

Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) - Project Dates:
July 2019 - December 2019

Description of Project:
The Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) is a cross-sectoral alliance committed to driving solutions to the problem of lost and abandoned fishing gear (ghost gear) worldwide. The GGGI aims mprove the health of marine ecosystems, protect marine animals, and safeguard human health and livelihoods.

Founded on the best available science and technology, the GGGI is the first initiative dedicated to tackling the problem of ghost fishing gear on a global scale. The GGGI’s strength lies in the diversity of its participants including 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. Further information on the GGGI can be found at www.ghostgear.org

In 2016 GGGI’s agreed focus was to develop best practice guidance on the management of fishing gear at the different stages of its life. Best practice guidelines were produced for fishing gear in 2017 and is being used to influence government and industry policy and practice to ensure enhanced mitigation of the ghost gear problem globally.

With the increasing awareness of the impact of plastics on the marine environment, attention is also being focused on aquaculture.  Plastic is used extensively in marine fish farming, both in cages (e.g. in the collars and nets themselves, as well as in feeding systems) as well as coastal fish ponds (e.g. in pond liners. This plastic is susceptible to loss through mis-management, deliberate discharge or from extreme weather event.  Whilst global losses of plastic from aquaculture to the marine environment are probably lower in volume than from fishing, aquaculture continues to grow worldwide and it is important that this situation is addressed now.  The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) has recently commissioned a White Paper on the subject in order to inform a possible change to their standard for responsible aquaculture. 

Services Provided:

The work involves the development of a best practice framework for the management of aquaculture production system infrastructure at all stages of its ‘life cycle’. The application of the framework will help to reduce the accidental or deliberate loss of aquaculture-derived plastic to the marine environment, especially in cases where there is a high risk of the gear becoming ghost gear or contributing to the microplastic load. The best practice framework will address:

  • Improved circular planning, including in procurement (equipment, packaging and other consumables), waste management, promoting recycling rates and planning for site and facility decommissioning.

  • Improved risk assessment and minimisation including the low and high-level loss of plastic into the marine environment.

  • Improved proactive facility management, including maintenance schedules, equipment replacement regimes and quality assurance.

  • Contingency planning in case of extreme weather events and other potential catastrophes.  This should include pre-planning, immediate response and subsequent recovery activities.

  • Increased management and staff awareness and capacity to manage facilities so that plastic use is minimised, losses reduced, and end of life plastics recycled where possible.

The purpose of the best practice framework is to provide clear guidance to a range of relevant stakeholders including seafood businesses, the aquaculture industry, certification bodies and local and national authorities/governments on how to effectively address the issue of aquaculture-derived plastics in the marine environment. It is envisioned that the framework produced via this project will undergo further consultation and potential refinement within the working group, who would then be seeking the endorsement of the wider GGGI participant base. At this stage the framework may undergo further revisions and refinement by the participants.