UK supermarket Wm Morrison Supermarkets has joined the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI), a group of organizations committed to reducing the growing worldwide problem of abandoned, lost and discarded fishing gear, known as ‘ghost gear’.
70% of macroplastics (larger than 5mm) are estimated to be fishing related. Ghost gear represents 10% of all the plastic waste in the ocean and can take up to 600 years to decompose into microplastics.
“Morrisons is committing to introducing best practice to fight lost fishing gear in its supply chain,” said World Animal Protection, an NGO which founded GGGI in 2015. “For example: improving reporting of lost fishing gear, promoting improvements in fishing gear traceability and recovery, and the uptake of fishing gear with inbuilt escape mechanisms to prevent animal entanglement if it is lost.”
Food retailers have a huge role to play in tackling the problem by looking at their seafood supply chain, said World Animal Protection.
Its recent ‘Ghosts beneath the waves’ report estimated 5% to 30% of the decline in some fish stocks is caused by ghost gear. 640,000 metric tons of this plastic waste is left in the ocean each year, and over 817 species of marine life is affected, it 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,” said Ingrid Giskes, chair of the GGGI.
“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.”
The Morrisons Foundation is also supporting volunteer diver group Fathoms Free, who will be conducting 12 retrieval dives and beach cleans this year throughout the south west of England. The project will be helping to clean up the seas around the UK coastline, raise awareness amongst local fisherman 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.
Source: UK retailer Morrisons joins fight against plastics in ocean