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Ghost gear refers to any fishing gear that has been abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded, and is a harmful form of marine debris. There are many reasons why fishing gear can be lost or abandoned, including severe weather, snags beneath the surface, conflict with other gear, interaction with other vessels and, rarely, intentional discard.
At certain times of the year naturally occurring algae in the sea can give rise to blooms, which may not necessarily be noticeable. Algae in these blooms may produce potent biotoxins. These can accumulate in filter-feeding bivalve molluscs and sometimes in other shellfish, such as grazing gastropods. Eating shellfish contaminated with marine biotoxins may pose risks for those consuming the food, as well as for the seafood industry. Cefas is assisting a number of Food Safety Authorities (including the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland (FSS)) and local food enforcement authorities in safeguarding public health by co-ordinating and delivering the testing required under national biotoxin monitoring programmes. The results of the FSA/FSS biotoxin and phytoplankton monitoring programmes are published weekly.
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The Global Ghost Gear Initiative is a cross stakeholder alliance of fishing industry, private sector, corporates, NGOs, academia and governments focused on solving the problem of lost and abandoned fishing gear worldwide.
Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE) has been undertaking a SAFEGEAR project, which analysed the scale and severity of ghost gear and developed an AIS beacon to tackle it. The aim of the project is to make the SAFEGEAR beacon available to fishers through grant funding and reduce plastic pollution.
The GLAUKOS project will develop bio-based textile fibres and textile coatings – with a particular focus on fishing gear and clothing. It will develop polymers mainly consisting of bio-based building blocks. This material can influence degradation parameters, such as light-sensitivity and susceptibility to (bio)hydrolysis.
A new Fish&Click app has been developed as part of the INdIGO project to produce an inventory of lost fishing gear found at sea or on the shore. To take part when you go for a walk along the coast or go out to sea, keep your eyes and your smartphone open; if nets, traps, ropes, lines, anchors or buoys get in your way, log them at: https://fishandclick.ifremer.fr/ or go to the mobile application https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=fr.ifremer.fishandclick.