First winners of award named after ‘inspirational’ Exmouth woman announced

Joanna Toole holding ghost gear on a beach in the UK. Picture: World Animal Protection

Joanna Toole holding ghost gear on a beach in the UK. Picture: World Animal Protection - Credit: World Animal Protection

The winners of an award created in honour of an Exmouth woman who died in the Ethiopia Airlines crash last year have been announced.

International Pole and Line Foundation and the Stand Out for Environment Restoration are the first two winners of the Joanna Toole Annual Global Ghost Gear Solutions Award.

The prize honours the 36-year-old United Nations worker who was the co-founder of the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) aimed at eradicating disused fishing equipment in the world's oceans.

The award recognises deserving projects which submitted compelling strategies to tackle the problem.

Entries were reviewed by ghost gear experts at World Animal Protection and GGGI.

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Miss Toole's father Adrian, who is a judge and trustee of the Joanna Toole Foundation, said: "For Joanna, her work was not just a nine-to-five activity - she was a devoted animal lover, who dedicated her professional life to this work.

"Her complete dedication to animal welfare has been an inspiration to many and the Joanna Toole Annual Ghost Gear Solutions Award instigated by World Animal Protection and the GGGI is a means of awarding initiatives that will rid the oceans of this menace to wildlife.

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"I am honoured to have been involved in this project with the intention of carrying forward her mission."

Steve McIvor, chief executive officer of World Animal Protection said: "Joanna was a fierce advocate for making our seas safer for wildlife, and I am delighted that this award will continue her legacy - I know that she would have been wholeheartedly behind the winners we've chosen.

"This award will carry on her work and make a positive difference for oceans that Joanna worked so hard to protect."

Ingrid Giskes, director of GGGI, said: "This award is very close to our hearts and we hope that it will become a permanent feature of the drive to rid the ocean of ghost gear once and for all.

"Joanna was an inspiration, her collective effort to secure ocean health and animal welfare is admirable. We are proud to continue her legacy at the GGGI and we urge others to continue to support this work."

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