Towards SDG 14.1 – Addressing Lost and Abandoned Fishing Gear at Scale

Entitled “Towards SDG 14.1 – Addressing Lost and Abandoned Fishing Gear at Scale,” a webinar was organized by the Global Ghost Gear Initiatives (GGGI) to deliver information regarding the ongoing battle against the degrading impact of deserted fishing gear on the world’s oceans. It featured presentations from Mr. Andreas Merkl from UNCOA on Marine Pollution, Mr. Pingguo He from FAO, and Mr. Ben Kneppers from Bureo, who introduced their work regarding the issue of Abandoned, Lost, and Discarded Fishing Gears (ALDFG).

The problem of oceanic pollution is becoming ever more pressing, necessitating the efforts and enhanced participation of international actors to formulate a consequential resolution. To begin the webinar, Ms. Ingrid Giskes explained how the GGGI, founded in 2014, contributes to the global environmental project by specifically targeting the elimination of harmful fishing materials known as “ghost gear.” Its innovative approach is divided among the Build Evidence, Define Best Practice and Inform Policy, and Catalyze and Replicate Solutions Working Groups.

Citing the first part Sustainable Development Goals 14 (SDG 14.1), to prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, Mr. Pingguo He of the FAO identified issues of marine debris, ALDFG, and ghostfishing as prominent challenges of promoting the UN agenda. Efforts to require the marking of fishing gear to improve its traceability through the 2018 “FAO Voluntary Guidelines” were discussed, as Mr. He expounded how its implementation would facilitate states’ cooperation on the issue of ALDFG as well as illegal fishing and malpractice issues.

Two pilot projects concerning the marking of fishing gear have been carried out by FAO. The first one constituted of marking gear in a small-scale Indonesian gillnet fishery. It was part of a more holistic management approach, which included educational outreach and provided incentives for small-scale fishers to retrieve lost gear. Moreover, the organization encouraged regional harmonization through collecting stakeholders’ opinion on fish aggregating devices and promoting the advantages of these devices, such as the use of biodegradable materials.

In addition to the marking of abandoned fishing gears, Mr. Ben Kneppers from Bureo introduced his company’s model to eliminate fishing net pollution. Partnering with fisheries and local communities, in 2013, Bureo established a free program in Chile to collect and recycle abandoning fishing nets into premium products such as raw materials. This approach not only provides a solution for end-of-use fishing gear but also benefits local communities with employment opportunity and funding. Expansion of operations through the creation of the Net Positiva Program has increased this model’s reach and contribution to the solution of ALDFG.

In conclusion, the innovative and bold endeavors of organizations such as the GGGI, FAO, and Bureo are critical to fight oceanic deterioration. Hearing from the session’s featured speakers was an uplifting and motivating experience for all participants of the webinar.

Meeting: Towards SDG 14.1 – Addressing Lost and Abandoned Fishing Gear at Scale

Date/Location: Tuesday, June 18th, 2019; 13:00-14:00; Online Webinar


Ms. Keondra Bills Freemyn, International Government Relations Manager, Ocean Conservancy;

Ms. Ingrid Giskes, Acting Director of Global Ghost Gear Initiatives;

Mr. Andreas Merkl, Co-Focal Point of the UNCOA on Marine Pollution;

Mr. Pingguo He, Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO);

Mr. Ben Kneppers, Co-Founder of Bureo

Written By: WIT Summer Interns 2019


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