MP backs campaign to protect marine life

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Angus MP, Mike Weir, has shown his support for World Animal Protection’s Sea Change Week, at an event at Westminster.

The international charity was encouraging MPs to back the campaign, which aims to end the devastating impact of ghost fishing gear on marine mammals and wildlife.

Ghost fishing gear refers to any fishing equipment or fishing related litter that has been abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded.

Most fishing gear is made out of plastic meaning that it persists in the oceans for centuries, accumulating year on year. World Animal Protection estimates that more than 136,000 seals, sea lions and large whales are killed by ghost fishing gear every year. An unimaginable number of birds, turtles, fish and other species are also injured and killed. In the UK, seals, minke whales, seabirds and dolphins are at particular risk.

The campaigning organisation dedicated the week to encouraging local beach users, coastal walkers, divers and ocean lovers to send evidence of ghost fishing gear that is littering their local coastline.

They asked the public to look for any type of fishing litter, such as rope or netting, collect it, upload a quick photo to their website and then dispose of it safely in a bin.

All of the photo uploads will them be used by World Animal Protection when meeting with Government and seafood companies to discuss the devastating impact of this problem on the environment.

Commenting on the campaign, Mr Weir said: “Our coastal communities have a long association with fishing and, inevitably, despite the best efforts of crews some gear gets lost and ends up on our beaches. This is an important campaign to highlight the dangers such lost gear can cause and hopefully lead to greater efforts to remove it from our seas and beaches.”

Alyx Elliott, UK Sea Change Campaign Manager at World Animal Protection said: “Ghost gear is one of the biggest threats to sea life. Whales, seals, turtles and birds can suffer slow and agonising deaths when they get trapped in ghost nets and other types of fishing litter.

“We are grateful that Mike joined us during our time at Parliament and is supporting our Sea Change campaign.”

World Animal Protection is also asking members of the public to email their digital postcard to the Minister for the Marine Environment, George Eustice, requesting he prioritise the impact of ghost gear.

To find out more and how to log the ghost fishing gear you find on the beach or coastal environments visit www.worldanimalprotection.org/seachange