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Marine Debris Program Participates in Ghost Gear Dive Recovery Workshop

OCTOBER 5, 2018 — On September 26-28, the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s Pacific Islands Regional Coordinator, Mark Manuel, traveled to Panama to participate in the Ghost Gear Dive Recovery Workshop held at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

Woman in a boat with nets; man in the water in a wet suit.
Workshop participants retrieve the ghost gillnets. Image credit: Emi Kondo, World Animal Protection.

The workshop was funded and coordinated by the World Animal Protection, Conservation International, Professional Association of Diving Instructors, and the local state resources department, Autoridad de los Recursos Acuáticos de Panamá (ARAP). Over 40 representatives from eight different countries of various backgrounds (federal, state, private sector, and non-governmental organizations) convened in Panama City to dig into the issues, impacts, and solutions to addressing ghost gear.

On day one, participants defined the problem of ghost gear within their countries and identified current solutions. On day two, discussions focused on the technical components of in-water ghost gear removal including: site inspections, gear and training requirements, safety protocols, and comparison of methodologies. The workshop concluded with a hands-on in-water training opportunity led by Conservation International that successfully removed two ghost gillnets from the nearshore waters of Taboga Island.

Following the workshop, World Animal Protection will summarize workshop findings and create a plan to expand the workshop to other countries dealing with the detrimental impacts of ghost gear. “Ghost gear is a global problem that impacts many countries in different ways. Workshops like these help bring awareness to the issue while promoting feasible and achievable solutions as well as building local capacity,” states Manuel.

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large group of people pose for photo on a beach.
Workshop participants gather after recovering two ghost gillnets. Image credit: Emi Kondo, World Animal Protection.
Man speaking into a microphone.
Mark Manuel discusses Hawaii’s experience with ghost gear recovery. Image credit: Emi Kondo, World Animal Protection.
Last updated Friday, June 21, 2019 10:55am PDT