Ghost Gear wreaking havoc on our ocean

NEW YORK, UN Headquarters – June 7: 10.25am (Environment News): Discarded or abandoned fishing gear, also known as ghost gear, is responsible for at least one-tenth of all marine debris, the UN Oceans Conference heard yesterday.

It is four times more deadly to marine animal life than all other forms of marine debris combined, according to Pacific island leaders.

Here at the UN Ocean Conference in New York, the Global Ghost Gear Initiative, an alliance of partners committed to tackling this challenge, was showcased with a special event led by the Kingdoms of Tonga and Belgium, in association with the World Animal Protection Society.

The Global Ghost Gear Initiative was founded in 2015 as the first initiative dedicated solely to driving solutions to the problem of ghost gear on a global scale.

“Unless addressed, ghost gear is likely to remain in the marine environment for hundreds of years and therefore does not just impact the marine ecosystem today, but in the future as well,” Hon. Semisi Fakahau, the Minister of Agriculture, Food, Forestry and Fisheries of Tonga, said.

“We must do whatever we reasonably can to maintain and improve the health of our marine ecosystems, to protect marine animals and birds, to safeguard human health and to protect livelihoods.”

Minister Fakahau said that historically the greatest concern in the Pacific region was the use of large-scale driftnets.

In the late 1980’s this was addressed by Pacific countries, who led the negotiation of the Wellington Convention to ban the use of such gear in our region.

“The success of that Convention was a direct driving force for the UN Resolution for a global moratorium on the use of such fishing gear,” Hon Fakahau said.

“Tonga is supportive of the work being done to raise the profile of ghost gear and to taking steps to mitigate the frequency and effects of ghost fishing, and I think this is a good example of how it can work.”

Hon Fakahau is leading the Tongan delegation at the event.

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