Published 1 year ago.
About a 4 minute read.
The seafood giant and the global nonprofit have expanded their ongoing partnership to not only clean hazardous fishing nets out of waterways, but to try and stop fishers — large and small — from discarding gear in harmful ways.
Bumble Bee Seafood Company is pushing
forward on its efforts around restoring the health of our oceans. This week,
they announced the launch of a five-year partnership with the non-profit Ocean
Conservancy, focused on one of the biggest
challenges facing the world’s oceans today: plastic pollution.
“As one of North America’s largest seafood companies, Bumble Bee has a huge
opportunity to make a difference,” Ingrid Giskes, Director of the Global
Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) at Ocean
Conservancy, told Sustainable
Brands™. “This new partnership represents a scaling up of potential
impact for our ocean.”
This comes nearly three years after Bumble Bee launched its industry-leading
Seafood Future platform, aimed at
working towards its broad goals of protecting and nurturing the ocean and those
who depend on it for their livelihoods. With a set of clear, actionable goals
set around three pillars — fish, ocean and people — it’s led the company
to expand its efforts around
A major focus of this new partnership will be on another major ocean pollution
— or abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear — much of which is made of
plastic. It’s a major contributor to the ocean plastic waste
The World Wildlife Fund calls ghost gear the deadliest form of marine
because it harms marine life and is incredibly difficult to retrieve.
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“Unfortunately, this gear can entrap and needlessly impact turtles, sharks and
other sea life. As part of being an active steward in protecting the ocean, we
do not take this lightly and are increasing our efforts to develop solutions to
this leakage,” Leslie Hushka, Bumble Bee’s SVP of Global Corporate Social
Responsibility, told SB.
One ongoing effort is to expand ghost gear cleanup
but that alone is not enough. While removing ghost gear from our oceans is
important, there is a need to address the source, as well — ensuring that
fishers, big and small, don’t discard gear in harmful ways.
“The only way to end this problem for good is by keeping gear from being
abandoned or lost in the first place,” Giskes says. “Through this partnership,
Bumble Bee will examine ghost gear in their own supply chain and find ways they
can implement best practices to prevent gear loss.”
This partnership builds on an existing relationship; in fact, Bumble Bee has
been working with GGGI since 2018, and became the sole corporate partner of the
organization’s GGGI Indonesia Ghost Gear Prevention, Retrieval and Net
Recycling Program in 2020.
GGGI started as a separate organization back in 2014; and after successfully
raising awareness and action on ghost gear, in 2019 it became part of the Ocean
Conservancy umbrella to expand both organizations’ impact. Meanwhile, the Ocean
Conservancy — founded in 1972 — is widely recognized as one of the world’s
leading environmental non-profit organizations, working on numerous projects
related to ocean health, ecosystems and livelihoods. If Bumble Bee is serious
about tackling plastic waste and ocean health issues, then partnering with Ocean
Conservancy and GGGI was the right step forward.
“Bumble Bee, through this new partnership, will be stepping up its engagement on
the ghost gear problem — supporting projects from Indonesia to Canada that
will remove gear, aid data collection and implement science-based interventions
like gear marking,” Giskes added.
One of the initial GGGI projects for Bumble Bee is in partnership with the
Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Affairs in Indonesia — the world’s largest
archipelago nation and a major source of seafood that’s exported globally.
“The project aims to reduce, reuse and recycle abandoned, lost or discarded
fishing gear in Indonesia,” Hushka explains. “It is exploring the root causes
for ghost gear; testing methods to tag, recover and remove fishing gear; and
exploring innovative approaches to upcycle used
Bumble Bee and Ocean Conservancy aim to set goals related to the prevention and
removal of ghost gear and other metrics to ensure that this partnership has a
positive impact for the oceans. But despite the scale of both organizations,
they can’t stop ghost gear from entering the oceans unless more brands and
companies sourcing seafood also grow their efforts and ensure that fishers
everywhere properly handle their gear.
“Our hope is that Bumble Bee’s commitment to tackling this issue not only
through cleanups and gear removal, but through prevention of gear loss along
their supply chain, spurs other seafood companies to do the same,” Giskes says.
Published Feb 25, 2022 7am EST / 4am PST / 12pm GMT / 1pm CET
Nithin is a freelance writer who focuses on global economic, and environmental issues with an aim at building channels of communication and collaboration around common challenges.
This article, produced in cooperation with the Sustainable Brands editorial team, has been paid for by one of our sponsors.