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Why companies need to exorcise ghost gear from their supply chains



Fishing equipment that has been discarded in the world’s oceans are having a devastating effect on marine life. Alyx Elliott, Sea Change campaign manager at World Animal Protection, explains what a new campaign is doing to address the issue.

It is gradually becoming the social norm for many consumer food choices to be based not only on company standards for animal welfare, or fair wages but also upon the lasting future impact they will have upon our environment and ecosystems; both on land and in the sea.

It is likely that the vast majority, if not all readers of this article will be aware of the dolphin-friendly logo on tuna cans and what this represents.

A similar, deep-seated understanding with the public about the problem of ghost fishing gear must be achieved and this is exactly what World Animal Protection intends to do with our Sea Change campaign.

Whilst shoppers are aware of the devastating effect that tuna fishing nets can have upon dolphin populations, they remain in the dark about an equally damaging underwater menaces that affects millions of marine mammals and wildlife globally.

Ghost gear is the term used to describe fishing equipment that has been lost, abandoned or discarded in the worlds’ oceans. It includes fishing nets, ropes, pots and traps and represents one of the biggest threats to animals in our oceans, entangling, injuring and killing millions of animals every year.

An estimated 640,000 tonnes of fishing gear – around 10% of total marine debris – is added to our oceans annually. Combined, it weighs more than the HMS Titanic.

The UK is an example where the welfare impact for ghost gear can cause immeasurable distress for the animals that get tangled up in it. In Cornwall, seals are regularly sighted with gear ‘necklaces’ that cut deep into their skin, causing bleeding, infection and even strangulation. Their suffering, and eventual death, can take years. In UK waters, ghost gear threatens many other iconic and protected species such as minke whales, bottlenose dolphins, leatherback turtles and many types of seabird, which can often drown after getting caught in these ghost nets.

People always react with horror when hearing the gravity of these facts, but it is possible for us to all make a change together and ensure that the problem of ghost gear is tackled once and for all.

World Animal Protection is pioneering the Global Ghost Gear Initiative and it is through this scheme that we are working with companies such as Morrisons and Icelandic Seachill to achieve safer, cleaner oceans by driving sustainable solutions that address the problem on a global scale.

This powerful alliance of business, UN agencies, research institutes, non-governmental organisations and governments will agree upon and prioritise actions for a sea free from ghost gear. Contributions will include funding for local projects, increasing opportunities for recycling fishing gear, and sharing expertise to further understand the causes and impacts of ghost gear. Our UK team has already been working closely with the fishing industry on potential solutions such as portside recycling schemes – there is much vested interest within the fishing community for this as a lost net can potentially cost £1000 or more.

We believe that the UK Government is best placed to quantify the problem – and in doing so, help fishermen, the seafood industry, animals, and the marine environment.

We know that people all over the UK want to help in the meantime so we have partnered with Surfers Against Sewage for the Big Spring Beach Clean on the 27th -29th March. Whilst beach cleans are only a short-term solution, they do allow us to start removing ghost gear immediately that otherwise threatens our marine wildlife every single day. Volunteers during the autumn 2014 beach cleans collected a staggering 150 kilometres of ghost gear nationwide.

We can, and will, exorcise ghost fishing gear but to do so we must engage and motivate those who rely on the sea –and its health –for their income.

Our mission over the coming months is to inspire everyone who loves the sea to join our collective of ghost gear busters, and protect marine animals from this phantom menace.

Find out more at

Look for your local area Beach Clean at

Alyx Elliott is the World Animal Protection’s Sea Change campaign manager. 

Photo: World Animal Protection 

Further reading:

Worsening ocean acidification threatens humans and marine life, UK scientists warn

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Will Self-Driving Cars Be Better for the Environment?



self-driving cars for green environment
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Zapp2Photo |

Technologists, engineers, lawmakers, and the general public have been excitedly debating about the merits of self-driving cars for the past several years, as companies like Waymo and Uber race to get the first fully autonomous vehicles on the market. Largely, the concerns have been about safety and ethics; is a self-driving car really capable of eliminating the human errors responsible for the majority of vehicular accidents? And if so, who’s responsible for programming life-or-death decisions, and who’s held liable in the event of an accident?

But while these questions continue being debated, protecting people on an individual level, it’s worth posing a different question: how will self-driving cars impact the environment?

The Big Picture

The Department of Energy attempted to answer this question in clear terms, using scientific research and existing data sets to project the short-term and long-term environmental impact that self-driving vehicles could have. Its findings? The emergence of self-driving vehicles could essentially go either way; it could reduce energy consumption in transportation by as much as 90 percent, or increase it by more than 200 percent.

That’s a margin of error so wide it might as well be a total guess, but there are too many unknown variables to form a solid conclusion. There are many ways autonomous vehicles could influence our energy consumption and environmental impact, and they could go well or poorly, depending on how they’re adopted.

Driver Reduction?

One of the big selling points of autonomous vehicles is their capacity to reduce the total number of vehicles—and human drivers—on the road. If you’re able to carpool to work in a self-driving vehicle, or rely on autonomous public transportation, you’ll spend far less time, money, and energy on your own car. The convenience and efficiency of autonomous vehicles would therefore reduce the total miles driven, and significantly reduce carbon emissions.

There’s a flip side to this argument, however. If autonomous vehicles are far more convenient and less expensive than previous means of travel, it could be an incentive for people to travel more frequently, or drive to more destinations they’d otherwise avoid. In this case, the total miles driven could actually increase with the rise of self-driving cars.

As an added consideration, the increase or decrease in drivers on the road could result in more or fewer vehicle collisions, respectively—especially in the early days of autonomous vehicle adoption, when so many human drivers are still on the road. Car accident injury cases, therefore, would become far more complicated, and the roads could be temporarily less safe.


Deadheading is a term used in trucking and ridesharing to refer to miles driven with an empty load. Assume for a moment that there’s a fleet of self-driving vehicles available to pick people up and carry them to their destinations. It’s a convenient service, but by necessity, these vehicles will spend at least some of their time driving without passengers, whether it’s spent waiting to pick someone up or en route to their location. The increase in miles from deadheading could nullify the potential benefits of people driving fewer total miles, or add to the damage done by their increased mileage.

Make and Model of Car

Much will also depend on the types of cars equipped to be self-driving. For example, Waymo recently launched a wave of self-driving hybrid minivans, capable of getting far better mileage than a gas-only vehicle. If the majority of self-driving cars are electric or hybrids, the environmental impact will be much lower than if they’re converted from existing vehicles. Good emissions ratings are also important here.

On the other hand, the increased demand for autonomous vehicles could put more pressure on factory production, and make older cars obsolete. In that case, the gas mileage savings could be counteracted by the increased environmental impact of factory production.

The Bottom Line

Right now, there are too many unanswered questions to make a confident determination whether self-driving vehicles will help or harm the environment. Will we start driving more, or less? How will they handle dead time? What kind of models are going to be on the road?

Engineers and the general public are in complete control of how this develops in the near future. Hopefully, we’ll be able to see all the safety benefits of having autonomous vehicles on the road, but without any of the extra environmental impact to deal with.

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Road Trip! How to Choose the Greenest Vehicle for Your Growing Family



Greenest Vehicle
Licensed Image by Shutterstock - By Mascha Tace --

When you have a growing family, it often feels like you’re in this weird bubble that exists outside of mainstream society. Whereas everyone else seemingly has stability, your family dynamic is continuously in flux. Having said that, is it even possible to buy an eco-friendly vehicle that’s also practical?

What to Look for in a Green, Family-Friendly Vehicle?

As a single person or young couple without kids, it’s pretty easy to buy a green vehicle. Almost every leading car brand has eco-friendly options these days and you can pick from any number of options. The only problem is that most of these models don’t work if you have kids.

Whether it’s a Prius or Smart car, most green vehicles are impractical for large families. You need to look for options that are spacious, reliable, and comfortable – both for passengers and the driver.

5 Good Options

As you do your research and look for different opportunities, it’s good to have an open mind. Here are some of the greenest options for growing families:

1. 2014 Chrysler Town and Country

Vans are not only popular for the room and comfort they offer growing families, but they’re also becoming known for their fuel efficiency. For example, the 2014 Chrysler Town and Country – which was one of CarMax’s most popular minivans of 2017 – has Flex Fuel compatibility and front wheel drive. With standard features like these, you can’t do much better at this price point.

2. 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

If you’re looking for a newer van and are willing to spend a bit more, you can go with Chrysler’s other model, the Pacifica. One of the coolest features of the 2017 model is the hybrid drivetrain. It allows you to go up to 30 miles on electric, before the vehicle automatically switches over to the V6 gasoline engine. For short trips and errands, there’s nothing more eco-friendly in the minivan category.

3. 2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Who says you have to buy a minivan when you have a family? Sure, the sliding doors are nice, but there are plenty of other options that are both green and spacious. The new Volkswagen Atlas is a great choice. It’s one of the most fuel-efficient third-row vehicles on the market. The four-cylinder model gets an estimated 26 mpg highway.

4. 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

While a minivan or SUV is ideal – and necessary if you have more than two kids – you can get away with a roomy sedan when you still have a small family. And while there are plenty of eco-friendly options in this category, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is arguably the biggest bang for your buck. It gets 38 mpg on the highway and is incredibly affordable.

5. 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel

If money isn’t an object and you’re able to spend any amount to get a good vehicle that’s both comfortable and eco-friendly, the 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel is your car. Not only does it get 28 mpg highway, but it can also be equipped with a third row of seats and a diesel engine. And did we mention that this car looks sleek?

Putting it All Together

You have a variety of options. Whether you want something new or used, would prefer an SUV or minivan, or want something cheap or luxurious, there are plenty of choices on the market. The key is to do your research, remain patient, and take your time. Don’t get too married to a particular transaction, or you’ll lose your leverage.

You’ll know when the right deal comes along, and you can make a smart choice that’s functional, cost-effective, and eco-friendly.

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