2018, 2019, 2020


Gulf of Maine

Ocean Conservancy

Gulf of Maine 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.

For this project Ocean Conservancy’s Global Ghost Gear Initiative, a cross-sectoral alliance committed to driving forward global solutions on the problem of abandoned, lost and otherwise discarded fishing gear worldwide, will be tackling the issue in the Gulf of Maine. 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, Blue Ocean Society and working in close collaboration with State fisheries and marine resource agencies in Maine and New Hampshire.


  • 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 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 serves as the Lead Partner of the Global Ghost Gear Initiative.

Header image photo credit: World Animal Protection

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