Success! International Whaling Commission to protect whales from ghost gear entanglement

17 September 2018

This week we’re celebrating this incredible decision from the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Lost and abandoned fishing gear – ghost gear – is the biggest threat to whales and other marine life

We’re delighted about the announcement, made on Wednesday, September 12 at the 67th IWC meeting in Florianópolis, Brazil.  

The IWC is a global body dedicated to the conservation of whales. It meets every two years and brings countries and NGOs together to discuss and regulate the protection of whales around the world. 

During the meeting, we successfully called on 89 UN member states to endorse a series of suggestions – in what became known as the ‘Ghost Gear Resolution’ – put forward by the Brazilian Government. Our team collaborated directly with the Ministry of the Environment in drafting the resolution throughout 2018.

The vote was unanimous.

This resolution means the IWC is encouraged to share data on whale entanglements with The Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI)s global data portal.

This will promote better practices and provide ongoing support for practical initiatives. One of these initiatives is the Global Whale Entanglement Response Network which provides trainings to countries in hotspot whale migration routes on how to disentangle whales in distress. We've supported the network for the past few years.

Diver rescues whale entangled in a ghost net. Bob Talbot / Marine Photobank

Dedicated to protecting whales 

Ingrid Giskes, our global head of Sea Change Campaign, says: “The endorsement of this resolution sees the work on ghost gear being further embedded within IWC’s strategic priorities. We are excited for IWC to start collaborating more closely with the GGGI to implement best practices to prevent, mitigate and remove ghost gear to reduce the entanglement of whales and dolphins. We’re pleased that the #IWC67 has listened! It’s through collaboration like this that we’ll tackle the massive problem of ghost gear.” 

Now, with the IWC turning its attention to ghost gear, the work of the GGGI continues to gather pace to address this urgent global issue.

We founded the GGGI in 2015. It’s an alliance of seafood companies, industry organisations, governments and NGOs driving solutions to the problem of lost and abandoned fishing gear worldwide. 

Fighting the deadly threat

Ghost gear is the biggest threat to marine life in the world. Decisions like this from global organisations are vital to our mission to save whales and other sea animals.

Around 600 to 800 thousand tonnes of fishing materials are abandoned or lost in our oceans every year. This ghost gear accounts for more than half of all macro-plastics discarded at sea and is four times more likely to impact animals than all types of marine litter put together.

Ghost gear entangles and kills over 136,000 whales, dolphins, seals and turtles every year.

Uniting to protect marine life

Our work to advance the ghost gear agenda at IWC 67 was supported by a large number of NGOs, like WWF, Animal Welfare Institute, Humane Society International – HSI, Environmental Investigation Agency, Greenpeace, Whaleman Foundation, American Cetacean Society and the membership of the GGGI. 

Our team with representatives from Brazil’s Ministry of Environment 

Learn more about our work to end ghost gear. 

Ghost gear is the biggest threat to marine life in the world. Decisions like this from global organisations are vital to our mission to save whales and other sea animals.

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