Young’s Seafood and Sainsbury’s fund study into impact of ‘Ghost Gear’

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Britain’s largest seafood business and one of its biggest supermarkets is working with Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI), to co-fund a new PhD research studying the impact of lost and discarded fishing gear on marine environments.

Launched at Heriot-Watt, the Edinburgh, Scotland, the university wrote in a press release that the research – Co-funded by Young’s Seafood and Sainsbury’s Supermarkets and in collaboration with the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) will involve two systematic reviews to help understand exactly how ghost-fishing impacts on the marine ecosystem. The study will also evaluate the effectiveness of interventions that reduce the likelihood of fishing gear being lost or discarded at sea.

Trawl fishing
Heriot-Watt Chief Scientist Professor Michel Kaiser and expert in Fisheries Conservation said: “To date, most research on the impact of fishing on the seabed has focused on trawl fishing. However, many of the world’s fisheries use passive fishing gears such as gill nets and traps. Given their importance, policymakers currently need robust scientific advice on how passive fishing gear affects the marine environment.”

The PhD is being undertaken in collaboration with the GGGI – the world’s only global cross-sectoral alliance dedicated to solving the problem of ghost gear around the world, of which Young’s and Sainsbury’s are members – estimates from 2009 suggest that least 640,000 – 800,000 tonnes of fishing gear enters the world’s oceans each year, harming fish stocks and livelihoods – but this number is thought to be significantly higher today.

Macroplastics
Young’s Seafood marine biologist Cameron Moffat said: “Ghost gear is responsible for a huge amount of macroplastics in the ocean, it compromises yields and stocks in fisheries and can be a significant threat to food security. Young’s were an early supporter of the Global Ghost Gear Initiative and we’re now supporting this study to further help protect our seas and meet United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14 by significantly reducing marine pollution.”

Global Ghost Gear Initiative Deputy Director Joel Baziuk said: “Ghost gear is one of the most harmful forms of marine debris, yet to date the extent of its effects on fish stocks, marine life and coastal economies is not yet fully understood. Research like this is critical to helping the global community understand the lasting impacts of lost fishing gear and make sound policy and fisheries management decisions based on emerging science. The GGGI is proud to support this study.”