TORONTO, June 8, 2015 /CNW/ - Our oceans are amazing. But these vibrant ecosystems are in crisis. For marine animals like whales and dolphins, lost and abandoned fishing gear (or ghost gear) can make the ocean a death trap. Some 640,000 tons of ghost gear enter the environment each year, choking up our seas and killing millions of animals. It is found in every ocean and sea on the planet.
"Most people are aware of the hazards caused by plastic and garbage in our oceans, but ghost gear is actually one of the biggest threats to animals" says Josey Kitson Executive Director of World Animal Protection Canada. Originally designed to capture fish and other animals, this lost gear floats through the sea and continues to indiscriminately entangle and trap animals. Made of durable plastic, it can persist in the environment for decades, even centuries.
But there is a solution and World Animal Protection has the key. "Through our new Sea Change campaign we are working with companies and NGOs to develop policies to reduce the amount of ghost gear that gets into the ocean, remove gear wherever possible and support global efforts to rescue animals that become caught" says Kitson. "Together, we can save 1 million marine animals by 2018," she adds.
Near Vancouver, British Columbia at Steveston Harbour Authority, an innovative net recycling program is keeping nets out of the ocean and turning them into something useful. "During the off-seasons, local fishers take apart old nets and through our partners Aquafil and Interface Inc. the nylon is recycled into carpet tiles and other products," says Joel Baziuk Operations Supervisor at Steveston Harbour Authority. "This program, which we hope to expand, is protecting the environment and preventing ghost gear from harming animals".
Canadians can help by joining the Sea Change movement at worldanimalprotection.ca. This World Ocean's Day, join the community of people taking action towards cleaner, safer oceans.
Facts and figures:
- 640,000 tons of ghost gear – lost or discarded fishing gear – ends up in our oceans every year
- It kills millions of animals each year including whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions, birds and turtles
- Fishing gear is very durable and can remain in the environment for decades, even centuries
- Ghost gear has been found on all three of Canada's coasts
- Ghost gear costs the fishing industry millions of dollars in lost revenue and clean-up costs
- With their partners, World Animal Protection can save 1 million marine animals by 2018
Notes to editors:
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SOURCE World Animal Protection
Image with caption: "Gray whale breaching while entangled in a lobster trap line © Brandon Cole / naturepl.com (CNW Group/World Animal Protection)". Image available at: https://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20150608_C6331_PHOTO_EN_17640.jpg
For further information: Beth Sharpe, email@example.com, T: 1 416 369 0044, M: 1 647 268 8122