Danger of ghost gear to marine life highlighted at event for school children


World Animal Protection campaigners spoke at an exciting event on Wednesday 18 April, part of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting programme, that helped children understand the damaging impact of marine litter on the environment.

World Animal Protection illustrated the issue of ghost gear (lost or abandoned fishing equipment) on marine animals with the help of creative games, quizzes and a turtle sculpture made entirely from salvaged ghost gear. Campaigners also showcased innovative solution projects including recycled ghost gear removed from beaches and the sea into plastic components and even swim wear.

The event took place on the RV Endeavor ship, moored next to HMS Belfast on the Thames in central London. It was attended by 120 school children aged 11-13, as well as government ministers, the executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme Erik Soheim, Commonwealth dignitaries, and fishing industry representatives.

As fishing intensifies, more fishing gear such as nets and line is being lost or abandoned and this is contributing to our ocean’s plastic problem. It's harming sea animals, marine ecosystems and global fish stocks. 

Some 71% of marine animal entanglements involve ghost gear and it is estimated to cause a 5-30% decline in some fish stocks. In addition, 640,000 tonnes of this plastic waste ends up in our oceans each year and can last up to 600 years.

The event, which was organised by the research organisation the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), took visitors on a journey explaining how plastics and other litter makes its way into the ocean as they walked around the ship.

World Animal Protection presented its work alongside the charities Surfers Against Sewage, Thames 21 and the Marine Conservation Society on the day.

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