When lost to the marine environment, this fishing gear can continue to fish, entangle and ensnare marine wildlife, smother sea floor and fragile coastal environments. It is also frequently expensive and labour intensive to recover and clean-up. Ghost gear presents serious hazards and impacts to fisheries including damage to fishing gear, costs to repair and replace damaged and lost gear, the potential to diminish fish stocks and hazards to navigation. Ghost gear is increasingly being recognised by the international environmental community as a topic of concern, particularly as it relates to the global marine debris issue, with a variety of groups including the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (UN-FAO) coming together to address this transboundary issue.
This PhD research aims to provide a cohesive, global understanding of the ghost gear issue including a necessary foundation to contextualise and frame the issue across geographies, fisheries and gear types. The research is multidisciplinary, and combines a quantitative, statistical approach to identify gear loss with an examination of governance regimes that mitigate and manage gear loss to highlight effective offset strategies that reduce gear loss and its impacts.