Pull of the Tide October 2018
Ghost gear is found in every sea and ocean on the planet. Ghost gear refers to lost and abandoned fishing gear, and is one of the deadliest forms of ocean plastic litter. It has significant impacts on marine animals, such as whales and turtles, on the coastal and marine environments, and on global fishing stocks. At the G7 Ministerial Summit in Halifax on September 20, Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard announced that Canada has joined the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI). According to World Animal Protection Executive Director Josey Kitson: “Canada’s agreement to sign on to this initiative is a game changer.”
According to World Animal Protection, 70% of the weight of macroplastics (any plastic larger than 5mm) in the ocean is fishing-related, such as hooks, lines, and weights. Abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear or ghost gear can persist in the environment for up to 600 years and every year 640,000 tonnes enter our oceans. 92% of encounters between marine animals and debris can cause lethal problems, including ingestion and entanglement.
This Initiative brings together 80 participants from 50 organizations representing governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, the private sector, fishing industries and academia to protect marine life and human health.
Our community is committed and engaged in the protection and restoration of our shared ocean environment through understanding and addressing macro and microplastics. At the Pacific Science Enterprise Centre in West Vancouver, scientists from the Coastal Ocean Research Institute are studying microplastics in the ocean. The GGGI tackles macroplastics in the ocean. The Nicholas Sonntag Marine Education Centre in the Gibsons Public Market is also undertaking projects to improve marine health in the ocean. Local governments and community members are constantly engaged on issues involving derelict and abandoned vessels.
Last May, the internationally-renowned West Vancouver author, artist and designer Douglas Coupland collaborated with Ocean Wise to highlight ocean plastic pollution in a major sculpture exhibition unveiled at the Vancouver Aquarium. The year-long installation, Vortex, immerses Aquarium visitors in a contemplative, emotive, and transformative experience at the nexus between art and environment. I would recommend checking it out.
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