Leading the fight against Ghost Gear

07 June 2019

On World Oceans Day (8th June) we are reflecting on the incredible journey we have had in our fight against ghost gear - lost, discarded or abandoned plastic fishing gear.

Ghost gear is one of the biggest threats to marine animals, trapping, drowning and starving millions of animals each year. Over the last five years, with your help, we have led the global fight against these floating death traps.

World Oceans Day 2019. Credit: World Animal Protection

In 2015 we created the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) bringing together over 100 influential seafood companies and countries including the UK, Canada and The Netherlands. In the UK, thanks to the 85,000 of you who signed our petition we persuaded Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Lidl and Tesco to join the alliance. 

With your support we helped fund Ghost Fishing UK to remove several tonnes of ghost gear from the WW1 shipwrecked German fleet in Scapa Flow, Orkney. Removing this ghost gear has saved an estimated several thousand marine animals and made the area safe for divers and boaters. 

Description: Ghost Fishing UK clears Scapa Flow of ghost gear. Credit World Animal Protection

In South West England your support has helped volunteer divers Fathoms Free establish a recycling network that has collected 44 tonnes of end-of-life gear since July 2018 in collaboration with four ports in Cornwall and Devon. Working with partners Odyssey Innovation Ltd they have also developed a new line of kayaks made of recycled fishing gear, creating a circular economy model that is benefiting the coastal community.

Description: Odyssey Innovation recycles ghost gear into kayaks. Credit World Animal Protection

Peter Kemple Hardy, wildlife campaigns manager World Animal Protection, “We would like to thank everyone who has taken part in the fight against ghost gear. With the help of our supporters and partners, we have built a movement that has saved hundreds of thousands of marine animals from this deadly plastic pollution. Protecting our oceans is everyone's responsibility and we can be proud of what we have achieved together.”

In addition to these projects, we rescued marine animals, removed ghost gear from the sea, cleaned beaches, changed industry practices and influenced government to champion prevention. 

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