Ghostly 600-year-old predator is killing thousands of whales, dolphins and turtles every year

Today on World Oceans Day, we must recognize the deadly threats our marine life face and work together to protect them

TORONTO, June 8, 2017 /CNW/ - Every year more than one hundred thousand whales, dolphins, seals and turtles are caught in 'ghost gear' - abandoned, lost and discarded fishing nets, lines and traps which can take up to 600 years to decompose. Most of this gear is made of plastics that can take centuries to degrade. Animals caught in this incredibly durable fishing gear suffer a prolonged and painful death, usually suffocating or starving over a number of months.

A staggering 640,000 tonnes of fishing equipment is left in our oceans each year – the equivalent weight of almost five CN Towers. Lost nets spanning wider than football fields, that are designed to catch marine life, have affected 817 species.

Decades or centuries later, when the ghost gear eventually does degrade, it breaks down into micro plastics that can enter the human body through the fish we consume.

New solutions to old ghost gear
Josey Kitson, Executive Director for World Animal Protection Canada, said: "Through our Sea Change campaign we are working with companies, governments and NGOs to develop policies to reduce the amount of ghost gear that gets left in the ocean in the first place, remove gear wherever possible and support global efforts to rescue animals that become caught."

"Positive solutions are being found in places around the world but a united global approach is also needed to solve the problem of ghost gear at the scale we need to and in the long term. Governments and industry must play a big part. That's why we founded the GGGI.

"Our Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) has more than 80 industry participants who are driving solutions from removing gear from our oceans to converting recycled nets to skateboards and swimwear. As well, through the first-ever UN Ocean Conference governments and other stakeholders have come together to improve the health of marine ecosystems, protect marine animals from harm and safeguard human health and livelihoods."

Safer, cleaner oceans
Our oceans are vast and Canada has the longest total coastline of any country in the world. Ghost gear haunts every sea and ocean on the planet. It is only through a multi-sectoral partnership like the GGGI, with private sector, governmental, academic and NGO members, that real and lasting impact can be made to rid the oceans of ghost gear and prevent gear from getting there in the first place.

About World Animal Protection
World Animal Protection is a global animal welfare organization, working closely with businesses, local communities, governments and the public to protect animals affected by disasters, animals in communities, animals in the wild and animals in farming. Through our Sea Change campaign we're aiming to save one million animals by 2018. www.worldanimalprotection.ca

About the Global Ghost Gear Initiative
The Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) was established by World Animal Protection as a cross-sectoral alliance committed to driving solutions to the problem of lost and abandoned fishing gear worldwide. The GGGI aims to improve the health of marine ecosystems, protect marine animals, and safeguard human health and livelihoods. For further information, visit: www.ghostgear.org

SOURCE World Animal Protection

For further information: For more information, images and interviews contact: Beth Sharpe, World Animal Protection Canada at bethsharpe@worldanimalprotection.ca or 1 416 369 0044 x111

RELATED LINKS
www.worldanimalprotection.ca

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