A new report released today by World Animal Protection has found that the world’s 25 leading seafood companies are making progress in stopping their lost fishing gear killing millions of uncollected fish and large numbers of marine animals every year.

The first ever assessment of its kind was published in March 2018. The new 2019 report, Ghosts beneath the waves: 2nd Edition, ranks 25 seafood companies in tiers 1 (setting best practice) to 5 (not engaged) on their ability to address the problem of “ghost gear” – abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear (ALDFG), which can persist in the ocean for up to 600 years.

Seafood industry stepping up to tackle lost fishing nets
Photograph credi: Brandon Cole – naturepl.com/WAP

As in 2018, no companies achieved Tier 1 status. However, three of the world’s leading seafood companies have entered tier 2 for the first time and have now made ghost gear best practice integral to their business strategy.

  • Thai Union, which has a global portfolio of popular brands including John West and Chicken of the Sea has committed to ensuring Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs) in the eastern Atlantic and Indian Ocean are in line with the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) Best Practice Framework and the FAO Voluntary Guidelines on the Marking of Fishing Gear.
  • TriMarine, which supplies tuna and tuna supply-related services to leading tuna brands worldwide has a clear strategy to address ghost gear and 100% traceability
  • Bolton Group, present in 45 offices and sells brands such as Rio Mare Tuna which is exported to over 30 countries. They are one of the only companies with clear ghost gear targets and objectives regarding the recovery of fishing gear and FADs.

The average score for the 15 companies covered in both the 2018 and 2019 assessments has increased from 23% to 30%, with seven companies moving up one or more tiers. In 2019 10 additional companies were also assessed.

Despite good progress over the last year, the report shows there is much more work to be done to tackle the ghost gear menace:

  • The average company score was 28%, placing the average company in the middle of tier 4
  • Only nine of the 25 companies currently acknowledge ALDFG as an issue for them. Just two publicly report on progress against targets on how they take action on ghost gear.
Seafood industry stepping up to tackle lost fishing nets
Photograph credit: Bob Talbot – Marine Photobank/WAP

An estimated 5 to 30% of the decline in some fish stocks can be attributed to ‘ghost gear’. Whales, dolphins, seals, turtles and other marine animals are also impacted by ghost gear.  Lost gear is four times more likely to trap and kill marine animals than all other forms of marine debris combined. In addition, it is also contributing to the ocean’s plastic problem with more than 70% of macroplastics by weight being fishing related.

Overall Lost Gear Ranking

Tier 1 – Leader/setting best practiceNone of the assessed
Tier 2 – Achiever/integral to business strategyThai Union, TriMarine, Bolton Group
Tier 3 – Improver/established, but work to be doneBumble Bee Foods, Grupo Nueva Pescanova
Tier 4 – Engaged / on the agenda, but limited evidence of implementationAmerican Seafoods, Cargill Aqua Nutrition, Dongwon Industries, Grupo Calvo, High Liner Foods, Nippon Suisan (Nissui), Nutreco, Pacific Seafood Group, Princes, Young’s Seafood



Tier 5 – Not engaged / no evidence that ALDFG is on the business agenda


Andrew Marr International, Austevoll, Beaver Street Fisheries, Camil, Clearwater Seafoods, Cooke Seafood, East Coast Seafood Group, Frinsa, Maruha Nichiro Corporation, Nippon Suisan (Nissui), Samherji


The Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI), an alliance founded by World Animal Protection in 2015, is dedicated to tackling the problem of ghost fishing gear at a global scale. The GGGI’s strength lies in the diversity of its participants including the fishing industry, the private sector, academia, governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. Every participant has a critical role to play to mitigate ghost gear locally, regionally and globally.

Ingrid Giskes, Global Head of Sea Change at World Animal Protection, said:

“Over the last year, the seafood industry has really stepped up to tackle ghost gear and is now taking its responsibilities much more seriously. Companies, governments and other stakeholders have acknowledged ghost gear is a major problem that must be fixed quickly.

“The GGGI has welcomed around 40 new members in the last 12 months. The report clearly demonstrates that companies who join the GGGI perform better at addressing ghost gear in their supply chains as well as contributing to the delivery of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We look forward to welcoming more members who want to protect marine life.”

The Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) developed The Best Practice Framework (BPF) for the management of fishing gear. The framework is the first in the world to recommend practical solutions and approaches to combat ghost fishing across the entire seafood supply chain, from gear manufacturers to port operators to seafood companies. It is now being used by GGGI members, including Thai Union and Bolton Group.

For more information, please visit www. www.ghostgear.org