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Join us to Stop Ghost Gear: One of the Deadliest Marine Plastic Debris

Plastic waste pollutes every corner of the ocean, threatens aquatic wildlife, and even ends up in the seafood we buy and eat through bioaccumulation in species which can potentially impact human health. Despite growing awareness, the problem continues to get worse. Three billion people depend on fish as a major source of protein. With a rising population, there is an increased demand for fish, and therefore more fishing gear is being used. Ghost gear is one of the deadliest forms of marine plastic debris, given it is one of the most damaging types of marine plastic pollution for both species and habitats.

Gillnets, traps and pots, fish aggregation devices, and other gear types are compounding the problem of plastic in our ocean as they end up abandoned, lost, or discarded. Ghost gear can continue to catch target and non-target species unselectively for years, potentially decimating important food resources as well as endangered species, such as marine mammals, seabirds, sharks, and turtles.

While the consequences of plastic use are finally beginning to receive the attention they warrant, the impacts of ghost gear are less visible and understood. Increasingly, companies are becoming interested in learning more about this problem and can now engage to be part of the solution to stop ghost gear by joining the Global Ghost Gear Initiative now.

Eleven million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year. It’s estimated that ghost gear makes up at least 10% of marine litter. That means somewhere between 500,000 and 1 million tons of fishing gear gets left in the ocean every year. That’s the equivalent of 40 times the weight of the Statue of Liberty.

© Shutterstock / Aqua Images / WWF -Peru


  • Worsens Plastic Pollution
    Companies are already making commitments to reduce their plastic footprints as part of their corporate responsibility strategies.

  • Impacts Species and Habitats
    Across all species groups, ghost gear is the most lethal plastic pollution type. It also damages valuable marine habitats like coral reefs and mangroves.

  • Causes Economic Damage
    Ghost gear can undermine the sustainability and economic returns from fisheries as part of company harvest loss.

  • Affects Company Brands
    Being associated with plastic pollution and habitat destruction might cause reputational damage for businesses.

Join us in our efforts to eliminate ghost gear from our oceans.


© / Michael Pitts / WWF

Multilateral Advocacy

WWF continues to monitor and raise awareness about ghost gear by demonstrating the scale of the problem at hand with scientific data, identifying gaps in existing legal frameworks, and highlighting the need for national and international preventive policies and practices.

© WWF-Vietnam / Denise Stilley

Global Action

WWF considers ghost gear and plastic waste a global problem in need of a global solution. Exiting laws are fragmented an ineffective. A coordinated global response in the form of a UN Treaty is required to help governments and businesses level the playing field and drive change at scale.

© Shutterstock / Ian Dyball / WWF-Peru

The Global Ghost Gear Initiative

WWF is part of the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI), an alliance of more than 100 organizations formed in 2015. GGGI aims at developing effective strategies by addressing the root causes of gear loss, and recognizing the safety, economic, and conservation issues with which fishers must work.


Companies can contribute to the solution by joining the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI), the world’s only global cross-sectoral alliance committed to driving solutions to the ghost gear problem. Over 135 leading retailers, brands, fishing companies, governments, and non-government organizations have already joined the initiative, including WWF. 
Brands, packaging suppliers, and retailers are also encouraged to join WWF’s ReSource: Plastic platform to turn ambitious plastic reduction commitments into meaningful, measurable action. Using the ReSource Footprint Tracker, WWF’s team helps businesses track year-over-year progress and provides expert guidance across a business’s entire plastic portfolio.
Businesses can additionally advocate for the policy changes needed to shift from a linear to circular economy in the U.S. and globally and to tackle the issue of ghost gear, including by advocating for principles of extended producer responsibility, environmental justice, and international leadership to reimagine our linear economies, as outlined in OneSource Coalition’s Statement of Solutions; and by advocating for a UN treaty on plastic pollution.


Ghost Gear One Pager

Join us to Stop Ghost Gear. More on what ghost gear is, why companies should care, what WWF is doing, and what companies can do. 

Stop Ghost Gear Advocacy Report

This WWF report, Stop Ghost Gear: The most deadly form of marine plastic debris shines a spotlight on the problem and offers solutions for what we can do about it. 

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