UK supermarket Morrisons has joined the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI), a group of organisations committed to reducing the growing worldwide problem of abandoned, lost and discarded fishing gear, known as ghost gear, which is maiming and killing millions of ocean creatures every year.

The charity World Animal Protection, founded the GGGI in 2015 to tackle the problem of ghost fishing gear on a global scale. Its members include the fishing industry, UK government, supermarkets, seafood companies and NGOs.

Lost fishing nets and lines kill hundreds of thousands of whales, seals, turtles and birds annually and contribute to the ocean’s plastic problem, with more than 70% of macroplastics thought to be fishing related.

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. 640,000 tonnes of this plastic waste is left in the ocean each year and over 817 species of marine life is affected.

Ingrid Giskes, Chair of the GGGI said, “I’m delighted to welcome Morrisons to the GGGI to help in the fight against one of the biggest threats to our oceans, which impacts both fish stock levels and people’s livelihoods. Morrisons will play a key role alongside NGOs, governments and other stakeholders to improve the health of marine ecosystems, protect marine animals and safeguard human health and jobs. “Morrisons has very progressive social and environmental responsibility policies and it’s heartening to see them take on a leadership role on the issue of ghost gear.” Morrisons are committing to introducing best practice to fight lost fishing gear in their supply chain. Whether this is improving reporting of lost fishing gear, promoting improvements in gear traceability and recovery or the uptake of gear with inbuilt escape mechanisms to prevent animal entanglement if it is lost.

The Morrisons Foundation is also supporting volunteer diver group Fathoms Free, who will be conducting 12 retrieval dives and beach cleans up this year throughout the south west of England. The project will be helping to clean up the seas around our coastline, raise awareness amongst local fishermen and communities and provide some of the infrastructure needed to enable these materials to be recycled.

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.

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