2018 – 2024


Gulf of Maine

Ocean Conservancy

Global Ghost Gear Initiative®

Ghost gear refers to any fishing gear that has been abandoned, lost, or otherwise discarded, and is the most harmful form of marine debris. Rough estimates suggest that at least 640,000 metric tons of fishing gear could be lost worldwide annually, accounting for at least 10% of all plastic debris in the ocean.

This project builds on 11th Hour Racing’s previous grant for Ocean Conservancy’s Global Ghost Gear Initiative(R) (GGGI), the only cross-sectoral alliance committed solely to driving forward global solutions on the problem of ghost gear worldwide. The GGGI will be tackling the issue in the Gulf of Maine (GOM) and expand to the greater New England region. Community and fisher involvement will be essential to the success of gear removal efforts as well as stakeholder education and outreach, which together will help to reduce the prevalence and incidence of ghost gear in the GOM. The initiative also catalyzes practical, replicable solutions for both on-the-ground and in-the-water removal and prevention of ghost gear. Other project collaborators include the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation, The Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation (CFRF), the Center for Coastal Studies, and NOAA’s Marine Debris Program. 

  • Collaborate with the Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation to support R.I. fishers in mapping ghost gear hotspots throughout the Narragansett Bay and develop removal plans based on lessons learned in the Gulf of Maine.
  • Implement workshops for R.I. and Maine fishers on best practices and technologies to prevent ghost gear loss in their local waterways.
  • Continue to advance Gulf of Maine removal efforts in collaboration with Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation and local fishers by targeting a previously identified large ‘gear-ball’ at the bottom of the Gulf.
  • Conduct prevention workshops throughout New England to address ghost gear pollution at the source.
  • Support gear recycling and voluntary turn-in programs in New England by organizing two mobile end-of-life fishing gear recycling hubs specifically targeting lobster fishers.
  • Partner with the fishing industry to gather and analyze ghost gear related data in the Gulf of Maine.
  • Identify the location of hotspots where fishing gear collects.
  • Remove approximately 5,000 pounds of derelict fishing gear in partnership with the fishing industry, characterizing the type and amount of gear, while recycling as much as possible.
  • Facilitate discussions and recommendations with the fishing industry and other stakeholders on the best solutions to prevent ghost gear from being created and to aid in its removal.
  • Raise awareness of the negative impact of ghost gear and potential solutions among the fishing industry, stakeholders, and the general public.

About Ocean Conservancy

The ocean is at the center of the most important food, energy and resource issues of our time. Ocean Conservancy champions science-based solutions to tackle the largest ocean conservation challenges we face and collaborates with partners to strengthen the health of the ocean for future generations. They mobilize citizen advocates to facilitate change and are committed to supporting efforts that benefit the people who depend on the ocean for food, jobs, and recreation. Ocean Conservancy shapes the political agenda for the ocean so sound decisions are made that sustain our planet and improve lives. Ocean Conservancy has served as the host organisation of the Global Ghost Gear Initiative since 2019. 

Header image photo credit: World Animal Protection

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