INC Fact Sheet: Abandoned, Lost and Otherwise Discarded Fishing Gear

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Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA)
Regional project
Country project
Document type
Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution - Technical Resource for Pacific Island Courtiers
Sea-based marine plastic pollution is roughly estimated to comprise around 20% of all marine plastic pollution and represents a major threat to marine ecosystems. However, sea-based marine plastic pollution has not been sufficiently addressed to date, representing a significant gap in global governance. Sea-based plastic pollution largely stems from shipping (35%), with an estimated share of 65% from the fishing sector.

Abandoned, lost and otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) is an ever-growing problem, impacting marine resources, wildlife and habitats. When fishing gear is lost, it continues to catch both target and non-target species – also known as ‘ghost-fishing’ – entangling and killing threatened and protected marine animals and commercially important fish species.

Lost gear also damages coral reefs and the seabed, while surface ALDFG presents a significant safety hazard for shipping and maritime activities, such as propeller entanglement. The existing governance framework to address fishing gear requires significant improvement due to the current fragmentation of laws and regulation across instruments – predominantly the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), in addition to a myriad of regional conventions and fisheries management bodies. In 2019, UN Environment published a report calling for the “development of a comprehensive global strategy to address ALDFG”, building on existing work and ensuring coordination across several key areas4. For this reason, member states have been discussing potential measures for addressing ALDFG within the negotiations for a new International Legally Binding Instrument (ILBI), with particular consideration for what ending plastic pollution ‘including in the marine environment’ could look like.
  • Fact-Sheet-Fishing-Gear_Final.pdf