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Tackling ghost gear in Mediterranean
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Tackling ghost gear in key Mediterranean biodiversity areas through prevention, recovery and recycling

What is the issue?
The ghost and end-of-life (EOL) fishing gear issue has become too big to ignore. Either for negligence, lack of facilities or poor services, fishing gear is accumulating both inland and on the sea bottom. The abandonment or loss of gear in the water is contributing to marine plastic pollution and threatening several endangered marine species. Likewise, the improper disposal of EOL gear is resulting in piles of plastic waste which will never see the light at the other end of the recycling tunnel.
What are we doing?
This project aims to tackle the problem of ghost and EOL gear using a wide-angle strategy towards the establishment of efficient prevention and recycling schemes for fishing gear. Our strategy will actively extract ghost gear, focus on the prevention of gear abandonment with gear marking tests and by setting up local systems for the reporting of lost gear and quick-response. We aim to establish a system of storage, transport, and recycling of retrieved and most importantly EOL gear, to establish sustainable waste management. Finally, we will work with local stakeholders, communities, MPA managers and authorities to build sustainable solutions while boosting business opportunities.

The goal of the project is to reduce the volume of ghost and dismissed fishing gear by finding innovative preventive solutions and supporting a zero-waste model.

Objective 1: By 2024, underwater ghost gear is mapped in all 3 sites (Vis, Dugi Otok, Molat).

Objective 2: By 2026, 8 tons of ghost gear, threatening marine biodiversity and habitats, is effectively retrieved.

Objective 3: By 2028, at least 24 tons of fishing gear (ghost and end-of-life) are recycled and regenerated into new products.

Objective 4: By 2028, preventive measures and regulations to facilitate fishing gear disposal are adopted at local and/or national level.
Who do we do it?
This project is integrated into WWF’s regional action plan to reduce the amount of plastic introduced into the sea. In the past few years, WWF has put into action small scale projects across the Mediterranean focusing on freeing the sea bottom from ghost gear by implementing extraction activities and raising awareness among fishers and coastal communities.

This funding will contribute to enlarge the scope of our initiative regarding ghost and end-of-life (EOL) gear by scaling-up our action from only retrieving gear, to formulating national and international schemes for the prevention, disposal, reuse and recycling of ghost and EOL gear. This project will bring the action to sites where ghost gear activities have never been conducted before, and potential new Marine Protected Areas.

The 5-year duration (2023 - 2028) of this project will be key in triggering the engine of a systematic and locally functioning system for the prompt reporting and recovery of lost gear. In fact, in five years this project will put into action best practices learnt from past experience, such as mapping and cleaning selected sites, will contribute to the broader mapping of sea bottom in the selected countries, and provide and test a model for management of ghost and particularly EOL gear, towards long-lasting solutions.

Project is supported by GG Segre Foundation.