Scrappy the seal went to Parliament!

Posted on 15 June 2015 by Josh Kaile
in the Animals in the wild blog

We took Scrappy the seal to Parliament during Sea Change Week to tells MPs how important it is to tackle ghost fishing gear!

I often get asked questions like “what does World Animal Protection do when it lobbies MPs?”, or “why do you work with MPs?”, so given we just held Sea Change Week, I thought it would be a good time to show the sorts of things we do!

With all our work at World Animal Protection the aim is to make a positive impact for animals, and that is no different when we engage with politicians.

Sea Change Week was designed to encourage those who were heading to the beach to take two minutes to look for any type of fishing litter, such as rope or netting, collect it, upload a quick photo and then dispose of it safely in a bin. We estimate that more than 136,000 seals, sea lions and large whales are killed by ghost fishing gear every year. In the UK, seals, minke whales, seabirds and dolphins are at particular risk.

We have been calling on the UK Government to do two key things:
1)    Work out how much ghost gear is in UK waters so we can quantify the scale of the problem
2)    Start ensuring that ghost fishing gear is tackled effectively, specifically by reducing the amount entering our seas, removing what is already there and rescuing animals caught up in it

So we decided to take a team of us to Parliament, armed with information and evidence of the problem and most importantly, Scrappy the seal. Scrappy was made by Cornish artist Katrina Slack using ghost fishing gear collected on beach clean-ups across the UK which were organised by Surfers Against Sewage and supported by World Animal Protection. 

We were blown away by the number of MPs, from all the main political parties and corners of the UK who came to tell us that they have seen the devastating impact ghost gear has, and pledge that they will stand with us, and you, to ensure we end it.

We had one particular MP tell us he knows all too well the problem ghost gear is having on his local beach, and we had another who called his daughter right there and she told him she had recently had to rescue a sea bird from part of a net!

Below are just a few of the photos we took with MPs, and I think you can see they enjoyed meeting us, or at least Scrappy anyway!

Clockwise from top left -  Mike Weir MP, Mark Durkan MP, Rt Hon Caroline Flint MP and Rt Hon David Davis MP with Sea Change campaigner Christina Dixon and Scrappy the seal.

Four images of Chris Dixon with MPs. From top left - Mike Weir MP, Mark Dukan MP, Rt Hon Caroline Flint MP and Rt Hon David Davis

If you want to help us, you can do so by sending our digital postcard to the Minister for the Marine Environment, and urge him to prioritise tacking ghost fishing gear.

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