Ghost fishing gear, such as abandoned and lost nets, pots and lines, represents more than 70% of all the floating macroplastics (larger than 5mm) in the ocean and causes the deaths of than one hundred thousand whales, dolphins, seals and turtles every year through entanglement.
World Oceans Day 2018 is focusing on preventing plastic pollution. 640,000 tonnes of this plastic waste is left in the ocean each year and over 817 species of marine life is affected. By joining the GGGI, Marks & Spencer will be committing to acting on ghost gear and its investment will go towards funding the work GGGI does with its members to introduce best practice to fight lost fishing gear in their supply chains and improve the reporting, recovery and recycling of lost fishing gear.
The GGGI was created by World Animal Protection in 2015, to tackle the issue of ghost gear on a global scale and its members include the fishing industry, UK government, supermarkets, seafood companies and NGOs.
Food retailers have a huge role to play in tackling the problem by looking at their seafood supply chain. World Animal Protection’s recent ‘Ghosts beneath the waves’ report estimates 5 to 30% of the decline in some fish stocks is caused by ghost gear which can take up to 600 years to decompose.
Ingrid Giskes, Chair of the GGGI said, “It is wonderful news that both Waitrose and Marks & Spencer are joining the GGGI on World Oceans 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 marine life in our oceans and a huge contributor to the ocean plastic crisis. By joining the GGGI, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer will be helping fight against this significant threat to the health and sustainability of our oceans, alongside NGOs, governments and other key stakeholders.”
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.’’
World Animal Protection developed the GGGI to drive economically viable solutions to reduce ghost gear globally and protect marine life. The GGGI aims to ease the pressure growing on countries to reduce marine litter and meet United Nations commitments.