Greenpeace Calls for Urgent Action to Stop Dumping of Fishing Gear

ghost gear turtle in net

Green turtle trapped in discarded fishing net in the Indian Ocean

Lost and dumped fishing gear makes up the biggest single source of large plastic pollution in the ocean - reveals a major Greenpeace report out this week.

More than 640,000 tonnes of nets, lines, pots and traps used in commercial fishing are dumped and discarded in the sea every year, the same weight as 55,000 double-decker buses.

Louisa Casson, an oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: 'Ghost gear is a major source of ocean plastic pollution. The world’s governments must take action to protect our global oceans, and hold the under-regulated fishing industry to account for its dangerous waste. This should start with a strong global ocean treaty being agreed at the United Nations next year.'

Ghost gear is estimated to make up 10 per cent of ocean plastic pollution but forms the majority of large plastic littering the waters. One study found that as much as 70 per cent (by weight) of macroplastics (in excess of 20cm) found floating on the surface of the ocean was fishing related.

A survey of what is known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch estimated that it contains 42,000 tonnes of large plastic waste, of which 86 per cent was fishing gear.

Another expedition to the South Pacific found an estimated 18 tonnes of plastic debris on a 2.5km stretch of beach on the uninhabited Henderson Island and it was reportedly accumulating at a rate of several thousand pieces per day. It estimated 60  per cent originated from industrial fisheries.

One of the most recent examples of the damage this can do to marine life the report stated is the death of 300 sea turtles last year due to the entanglement in ghost gear off the coast of Oaxaca, Mexico.

The report said ghost gear was particularly prevalent from illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing. 'Poor regulation and slow political progress in creating ocean sanctuaries that are off-limits to industrial fishing allow this problem to exist and persist,' the report concluded.



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