Understanding the socioecological system of Ghost fishing gear from fishers and divers perspectives in the Gulf of Tribugá, Colombia


The Gulf of Tribugá, characterized by its mangroves and rocky reefs, serves as a crucial habitat and refuge for a diverse range of marine species, both commercially and ecologically significant. These ecosystems are integral to the region's ecological equilibrium and support the livelihoods of local communities dependent on these resources.Ghost fishing gear has been identified by inhabitants of the region as a major contributor to ecosystem degradation. However, comprehensive information regarding this issue is scarce, impeding the development of effective solutions and the understanding of its impact on marine ecosystems and coastal communities. Therefore, this study aims to address this gap by comprehensively exploring the socioecological conflict associated with the abandonment, loss, and discarding of fishing gear in the Gulf of Tribugá. Through a participatory approach involving key stakeholders such as fishers and divers, we seek to gain insights into the root causes and potential solutions to this issue. Fieldwork was conducted in the Gulf of Tribugá communities from October 2023 to February 2024. Semi-structured interviews were conducted, with artisanal fishers and divers to gather demographic data, information on fishing gear characteristics and vessels, the participants' knowledge and perceptions of ghost fishing, and an analysis of the primary factors contributing the production of ghost fishing gear. Interviews captured perspectives from 20% of the artisanal fisher population in the region (n=61), alongside insights from 21 recreational and fishing divers. Preliminary findings indicate that one drive of ghost fishing gear production is artisanal fishers’ limited understanding of the physical characteristics of fishing areas, the socioecological impacts of ghost fishing gear, and economic pressures. This research aims to contribute to the development of strategies to mitigate the impacts of ghost fishing gear in the Gulf of Tribugá, thereby safeguarding marine ecosystems and the livelihoods of coastal communities.