NOAA - Marine Debris Program
Management of abandoned, lost, discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) refers to the management of fishing gear (onboard and deployed, e.g., FADs) and retrieval of lost gear as a means of reducing fisheries bycatch environmental damage. Tuna RFMOs have adopted binding measures and data collection protocols, as well as encouraging voluntary measures, to address the issue.
The factors which cause fishing gear to be abandoned, lost, or otherwise discarded are numerous and include: adverse weather; operational fishing factors such as the cost of gear retrieval; gear conflicts; illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing; vandalism/theft; and access to and cost and availability of shoreside collection facilities. In tuna and billfish fisheries, examples of ALDFG might include purse seine nets, gillnets, abandoned (non-ecologically friendly) FADs, monofilament line, hooks, lightsticks, buoys/floats and packaging arising from bait, hooks etc. ALDFG has significant environmental impacts, including pollution of and damage to marine ecosystems, and ingestion of plastics by marine life. It acts as 'ghost' fishing gear, entangling marine megafauna as it drifts in ocean currents.
Measures that tuna RFMOs have adopted to address ALDFG include marking, tracking and retrieval of gear, prescriptions for designing non-entangling FADs made of biodegradable materials, prohibitions on discharging plastics, and recommendations to avoid discharge of oil or fuel products and garbage. ALDFG has received increased research attention in recent years, looking at, for example, shark and ray entanglement, spatial management of FADs to reduce beaching events and identifying highest risk ALDFG.
- Macfadyen, G., Huntington, T., Cappell, R. 2009. Abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear. UNEP Regional Seas Reports and Studies, No. 185; FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper, No. 523. Rome, UNEP/FAO.
Gilman, E. 2015. Status of international monitoring and management of abandoned, lost and discarded fishing gear and ghost fishing. Marine Policy 60:225–239. doi: 10.1016/j.marpol.2015.06.016