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War on marine litter

War on marine litter: New Zealand has pledged support to the Global Ghost Gear Initiative, committing to reduce marine litter and honour UN goals

At the first ever UN Ocean Conference, New Zealand has recognised the urgent need to address the 640,000 tonnes of discarded fishing gear – or “ghost gear” – left in the oceans each year

Ghost gear said to kill hundreds of thousands of whales, seals, turtles and birds annually, while costing governments millions of dollars in clean-up expenses

06 JUNE 2017 NZT (05 June EDT) As a result of the first ever UN Ocean Conference, held in New York from June 5-9, 2017, New Zealand has pledged their support to the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI), committing to address the significant amount of marine debris caused by lost and discarded fishing gear.

New Zealand has signed a Statement of Support, welcoming the GGGI and supporting its commitment to improve the health of marine ecosystems, protect marine animals from harm and safeguard human health and livelihoods.

New Zealand Conservation Minister Hon. Maggie Barry said: “As an island nation, New Zealand takes a strong interest in the way the ocean is managed. The ocean that surrounds New Zealand, and the marine resources and life within it, play a vital role in our economic, social and cultural wellbeing and identity. Abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded ghost gear is a significant threat to our marine ecosystems and our unique way of life. We therefore wholeheartedly support the GGI and are committed to being an effective part of a global approach to address a global problem, at scale.

Commonly known as “ghost gear”, abandoned, lost and discarded fishing nets, lines and traps can lurk in oceans for up to 600 years, and are one of the biggest and most potent threats to sea life and the health of marine ecosystems.

A staggering 640,000 tonnes of fishing equipment is left in our oceans each year and has been found to trap, injure, mutilate and kill hundreds of thousands of whales, seals, turtles and birds annually. Devastating reports show that over 817 species of marine life are affected by this marine litter.

The level of ghost gear has increased in recent years and is likely to grow further as fishing efforts intensify, creating wide-ranging problems for the marine environment and costing governments millions of dollars in clean-up expenses.

A solution to the war on marine waste

In 2015, the United Nations established 17 ambitious global targets, known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Goal 14 is entirely focussed on our oceans and calls for a significant reduction of marine pollution of all kinds, including ghost gear by 2025.

Effective solutions are being found locally and nationally, yet there is an urgent need to grow and consolidate global approaches to enable the problem of ghost gear to be monitored and solved at scale. It is a global problem, requiring a global solution.

World Animal Protection has developed the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) to drive economically viable solutions to reduce ghost gear globally and protect marine life. They founded the GGGI to ease the pressure growing on countries to reduce marine litter and meet United Nations commitments.

Ingrid Giskes, World Animal Protection’s Head of Sea Change, says “The GGGI is key to realising Sustainable Development Goal 14’s targets. This week at the UN Ocean Conference, we presented the GGGI as a key partner in helping countries to meet their commitments under SDG 14. In addition to Belgium, Samoa, Tonga, and Sweden, we’re thrilled that New Zealand has pledged their support to tackle ghost gear and create safer, cleaner oceans”.

To get involved, visit: www.ghostgear.org/join-us


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