20 September 2018

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Canada Signs On To Global Initiative To Protect Marine Wildlife

Ghost gear is found in every sea and ocean on the planet, along all three of Canada's coast lines and is a major contributor to ocean plastics. A whopping 640,000 tons of ghost gear is left in our oceans each year. It traps, injures, mutilates and kills hundreds of thousands of whales, dolphins, seals, sharks, turtles and birds annually...

A humpback whale breaching.
A humpback whale breaching. (Photo: World Animal Protection)
Marine animals in Canada will soon be getting more protection as Canada has signed on to the Global Ghost Gear Initiative or GGGI. 
This initiative was founded in 2015 by World Animal Protection, an organization working to end the suffering of animals worldwide. The GGGI is an alliance of governments, NGOs, academics and fishing industry leaders that aims to reduce the amount of ghost gear (lost or abandoned fishing gear) in the oceans.
The announcement was made by the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, during the G7 meeting of Environment, Energy and Oceans Ministers in Halifax, Nova Scotia. World Animal Protection was invited to participate in the aligned Ocean Partnership Summit, on a panel covering sustainable fisheries and including reduction strategies for ghost gear. 
Ghost gear is found in every sea and ocean on the planet, along all three of Canada's coast lines and is a major contributor to ocean plastics. A whopping 640,000 tons of ghost gear is left in our oceans each year. It traps, injures, mutilates and kills hundreds of thousands of whales, dolphins, seals, sharks, turtles and birds annually.
Signing on to the GGGI is an important next step in Canada's commitment to reduce ocean plastics. It means they will be addressing one of the deadliest forms of plastic debris for marine animals like whales and turtles.
World Animal Protection's Executive Director Josey Kitson says: "Canada's agreement to sign on to this initiative is a game changer. Our country has the longest total coastline in the world and Canada is sending a clear message that it is a leader in tackling ghost gear, protecting vulnerable species, improving the health of marine ecosystems, as well as safeguarding fishing industry livelihoods."
The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard adds, "lost and abandoned fishing gear kills and injures marine life and has a significant damaging environmental impact. Not only does it negatively affect marine life and fish stocks globally, it also has a significant economic impact that is felt most acutely by the coastal communities and industries that depend on fisheries for their livelihoods. Our Government knows the time to act is now. We are proud to be a signatory to the Global Ghost Gear Initiative and we are committed to improving the health of marine ecosystems, safeguarding human health and livelihoods and protecting marine life from harm."
Among the outcomes of the previous G7 Leaders' Summit, held from June 8-9 in Charlevoix, Quebec, was the Charlevoix Blueprint for Healthy Oceans, Seas and Resilient Coastal Communities and The Plastics Charter. With ghost gear accounting for an estimated 70% of ocean macro-plastic by weight, this commitment will go further in promoting sustainable oceans and fisheries, supporting coastal communities and tackling marine litter.
"Canada's commitment today also means that Canada will work alongside other key players in the GGGI to create solutions to reduce lost fishing gear and its harmful impacts on a global scale. It is a positive step knowing that our message has been heard and we look forward to working with Canada further on this," says Kitson.
⏩ Canadians from coast to coast can learn more about the impacts of ghost gear and how the members of the Global Ghost Gear Initiative are tackling it, at worldanimalprotection.ca.