UK Government's Plan To Address Single Use Plastics 'Overlooks Ghost Gear'

Lost and abandoned fishing equipment continues to amass in the oceans at a staggering rate of 640,000 tonnes per year
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A trapped Hawaiian monk seal (Photo: NOAA, NMFS permit 932-1905)?

A trapped Hawaiian monk seal (Photo: NOAA, NMFS permit 932-1905)?

The Government's plan to address single use plastics overlooks the issue of ghost gear - lost and abandoned fishing equipment - according to one animal rights group, World Animal Protection [WAP].

The new 25-year environmental plan introduces a raft of proposals set to eliminate all avoidable plastic by 2042, with Prime Minister Theresa May saying that it's a 'war on plastic waste'.

As part of the plan, the 5p levy on plastic bags will be extended to all shops in order 'to help achieve our goal of eliminating all avoidable plastic waste'.

But WAP believes it overlooks a major environmental issue.

Fishing gear

WAP's data shows that ghost gear, made from extremely durable plastic and nylon, represents 10 percent of all the plastic waste in the ocean, and is one of the biggest threats to marine wildlife.

Designed to catch and kill animals, these floating death traps can take up to 600 years to break down into microplastics, causing prolonged suffering and death to animals who become entangled.

Fishing gear continues to amass in our oceans at a staggering rate of 640,000 tonnes per year.

 A deceased cormorant entangled in ghost net in Cornwall, UK (Photo: Dave Peake Marine Photobank) 

A deceased cormorant entangled in ghost net in Cornwall, UK (Photo: Dave Peake Marine Photobank) 

Urging

Now WAP is calling on the Government to adjust its strategy to also address the ghost gear issue 'if [it 's] serious about reducing the impact of plastic on the marine environment'.

In 2017, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs [DEFRA] announced the UK Government would be joining the Global Ghost Gear Initiative [GGGI], a consortium founded by World Animal Protection to collectively address the fishing litter issue.

The animal welfare organization is encouraging the Government to 'use its platform as a world leader in the fight against plastic pollution to draw attention to the ghost gear crisis'.