Waitrose and Marks & Spencer tackle marine plastics on World Oceans Day
On World Oceans Day (8th June), UK supermarkets Waitrose and Marks & Spencer have pledged to fight Ghost Gear – nets, lines and ropes that have been lost or discarded. Ghost Gear causes horrific injuries and deaths to hundreds of thousands of beautiful marine animals each year.
World Oceans Day
World Oceans Day 2018 is focused on preventing plastic pollution and Ghost Gear is the deadliest form of ocean plastic waste to marine life, because it is designed to catch and kill. At least 136,000 whales, seals, sea lions, turtles and dolphins are entangled in Ghost Gear each year. Whales starve, trapped in vast nets and dolphins drown tangled in razor sharp fishing lines.
The scale of this emergency is truly shocking. More than 70% of ocean macro-plastics (plastic pieces larger than 5mm) are fishing-related and 640,000 tonnes of Ghost Gear is left in the ocean each year. Ghost Gear can continue to ‘ghost-fish’ for up to 600 years before being broken down into micro-plastics.
Supermarkets join group to tackle crisis
In 2015, we launched the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI), a group of governments, businesses and charities focussed on reducing the amount of Ghost Gear in the oceans.
Waitrose and Marks & Spencer have today become GGGI members, pledging to help tackle the Ghost Gear crisis. They join Sainsbury’s and Morrisons as UK supermarkets belonging to the group.
Preventing Ghost Gear and reducing its impact
Supermarkets have a huge role to play in tackling the problem by looking at their seafood supply chains and working with suppliers to introduce measures to prevent lost fishing gear. This can include improving reporting of lost fishing gear, promoting improvements in finding equipment when it is lost, or encouraging the use of gear which is less likely to harm animals when it is lost.
Ingrid Giskes, Chair of the GGGI said, “It is wonderful news that Waitrose and Marks & Spencer are joining the GGGI on World Ocean’s Day 2018, especially as the day is focussed on preventing plastic waste. Ghost Gear is by far the most harmful form of marine debris to sea life in our oceans and a huge contributor to the ocean plastic crisis. By joining the GGGI Marks & Spencer will be helping fight against this significant threat to the health of our oceans, alongside charities, governments and other key parties.”
Hannah Macintyre, Fisheries and Aquaculture Manager, at Marks & Spencer said, “Our customers care about reducing plastic pollution and the health of our oceans. That’s why we’re committed to responsible sourcing, it’s why we’re supporting the Responsible Fishing Scheme and why we’ve joined the GGGI. As well as funding GGGI’s vital work, we will be working with our suppliers to transform their approach managing their fishing gear and ensuring best practice when it comes to gear marking, disposing of marine litter, recycling old gear and reporting lost kit.”
Tor Harris, Head of Sustainability and Responsible Sourcing at Waitrose, said: “Bringing organisations together to solve the issue of abandoned fishing equipment can only be a good thing for marine life. Responsible sourcing is a top priority for us so this is a positive step for the environment and the future of sustainable fishing.’’