'Sea Change' in the Ocean

23 April 2014

'Ghost' fishing gear is revealed as one of the biggest killers of marine life in our report to the Global Oceans Action Summit.

This article was written when we were called the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA). Find out about our name change

UPDATE: The Global Oceans Action Summit was a great success! Governments, business leaders and NGOs from 80 countries committed to tackling problems such as overfishing, climate change and pollution. Our Sea Change campaign was well received. The Chair’s ‘summary report’ called for high-level action on plastic pollution, in particular ghost fishing gear. This will provide a firm foundation for our campaign with governments and business around the world.  

We're at the  Global Oceans Action Summit in The Hague this week promoting our new report which reveals how ‘ghost’ fishing gear – nets, lines and traps that are lost or discarded in our oceans  –  is one of the biggest killers of marine life.

'Ghost gear' has a devastating effect on marine animals, injuring and killing millions of seals, whales, turtles and seabirds. It is found in every ocean and sea on the planet.

And it doesn’t just cost lives – it also costs governments and marine industries millions of dollars in clean-up expenses and lost revenue each year. Made mostly of plastic, this silent killer will persist in our oceans for centuries.

Our new report is the first ever in-depth review of the issue from an animal welfare perspective. It reveals the global scale of the problem and the types of harm caused to marine animals. 

We will be sharing our report with government and industry representatives at the Global Oceans Action Summit where the focus is on collaboration across sectors to achieve healthier and productive oceans. We will also be making our case for global cross-sectoral action and cooperation to provide a lasting solution to the ghost gear problem.

Sea Change in the ocean: campaign to save a million lives

Our new 'Sea Change' campaign aims to save one million marine animals by 2018. We will do this by:

  • Reducing the amount of ghost gear abandoned in our seas
  • Removing gear that is already there 
  • Rescuing animals already entangled

At the heart of our campaign is a plan to launch a cross-sectoral ‘Global Ghost Gear Initiative’: an alliance of governments, industry, and intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations with the knowledge, power and influence to deliver solutions for ghost-gear-free seas.

The initiative will share information and resources to understand the causes and effects of global ghost gear. It will help to expand and replicate existing projects and develop new ways of tackling the ghost gear issue. 

By uniting global efforts to tackle ghost fishing gear, we will ensure that it does not pose an ever-growing threat to our oceans or the animals that live in them. Together we can create a sea change towards a ghost-gear-free future.

At the heart of our campaign is a plan to launch an alliance of governments, industry, and intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations with the knowledge, power and influence to deliver solutions for ghost-gear-free seas.
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