Status of international monitoring and management of abandoned, lost and discarded fishing gear and ghost fishing
Abandoned, lost and discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) can pose substantial ecological and socioeconomic problems. Over the past decade there has been increasing international recognition of the need for multilateral efforts to address transboundary problems resulting from ALDFG, including ghost fishing. To benchmark the status of international monitoring and mitigation of ALDFG and ghost fishing, an assessment was made of data collection protocols and management measures to prevent and remediate ALDFG and ghost fishing by 19 global and regional bodies and arrangements with the competence to establish binding controls for marine capture fisheries. Four organizations were explicitly mandated by their convention or agreement text to monitor and control ALDFG and ghost fishing. Modifying mandates of the other organizations might augment members' political will to monitor, prevent and remediate ALDFG and ghost fishing. Ten organizations collected logbook or observer data on ALDFG. Harmonizing data collection protocols where they are in place, and filling gaps where they are lacking, would improve regional monitoring of ALDFG. Twelve organizations have adopted binding measures that contribute to avoiding or remediating ALDFG. The organizations, however, make use of a small subset of available tools: Only half of 18 categories of methods identified as having the potential to prevent and remediate ALDFG and ghost fishing were used by the organizations. Organizations lacking relevant binding measures could begin to fill this gap and organizations can tap a broader suite of complimentary management methods.