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 worldanimalprotection.org.uk/seachange
Look for your local area Beach Clean at sas.org.uk/events
Alyx Elliott is the World Animal Protection’s Sea Change campaign manager.
Photo: World Animal Protection
4 Common Items That Can be Reused Again and Again
As a society we are getting much better at taking our obligations to the world and environment around us more seriously. This is undoubtedly a good thing! The effects of climate change are beginning to manifest across the world, and this is turning the issue from an abstract threat into a very real danger. Trying to introduce some greener, more eco-friendly practices into your life isn’t just a great way of doing something beneficial for society and the world around you. It is a wonderful way of engaging positively with the world and carries with it numerous psychological benefits.
Being a greener, more ecologically friendly person doesn’t require any dramatic life changes. Breaking or making a few small habits is all it takes to make your life a greener one. In this article we look at one of the easiest, yet most effective green practices to get into: reusing everyday items.
Jars and Containers
Glass and metal are widely recycled, and recycling is a good thing! However, consider whether any containers you buy, whether it’s a tub of ice cream or a jar of coffee, can be washed out and reused for something else. Mason jars, for example, can be used to store homemade pasta sauce and can be washed for future use. Once you start thinking about it, you will find endless opportunities to reuse your old containers.
An ice-cold soda is a wonderful treat on a hot day, but buying soda can get expensive, and the manufacturing and distribution of the drinks themselves isn’t great for the environment. However, by holding on to your old soda bottles and repurposing them as water bottles, you can save money on drinks, or use them to measure out water for your garden.
Most of the time groceries come in paper bags, which are better for the environment than the plastic alternatives, but they are less durable and thus harder to reuse. Whenever the store places your items in a plastic bag, hang onto it so you can reuse the bags again. If you want to take it one step further, consider looking into buying some personalized recycled bags. These bags are designed to last for a long time and are made of recycled materials. They look striking and unique, they’ll turn heads, and maybe even attitudes!
If you’re a keen gardener, then you will already probably know how to reseed your plants in order to ensure a fresh crop after each plant’s lifecycle. If you have space in your garden, or haven’t yet tried your hand at gardening, then consider planting a small vegetable plot. Growing your own veggies means that you’ll be helping to cut back on the emissions generated by their transport and production. The best part about growing your own food in this way is that, by harvesting properly and saving the seeds, you can be set up with fresh vegetables for life!
Reusing and recycling common household items is an easy way to make your world a little bit greener. Once you start looking for these opportunities you’ll realize that they’re everywhere!
These 5 Green Office Mistakes Are Costing You Money
The sudden interest in green business is very encouraging. According to recent reports, 42% of all companies have rated sustainability as an important element of their business. Unfortunately, the focus on sustainability will only last if companies can find ways to use it to boost their ROI.
Many businesses get so caught up in being socially conscious that they hope the financial aspect of it takes care of itself. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to go green and boost your net income at the same time.
Here are some important mistakes that you will want to avoid.
Only implementing sustainability on micro-scale
The biggest reason that brands are going green is to improve their optics with their customers. Too many businesses are making very minor changes, such as processing paperwork online and calling themselves green.
Customers have become wary of these types of companies. If you want to earn their business, you are going to need to go all the way. Bring in a green business consultant and make every feasible change to demonstrate that you are a green organization from top to bottom.
Not prioritizing investments by long-term ROI
It isn’t realistic to build an entirely green organization overnight. You will need to allocate your capital wisely.
Before investing in any green assets or services, you should always conduct a long-term cost benefit analysis. The initial investment for some green services may be over $20,000. If they don’t shave your cost by at least $3,000 a year, they probably aren’t worth the investment.
Determine which green investments will have the best pay off over the next 10 years. Make these investments before anything else. Then compare your options within each of those categories.
Implementing green changes without a plan
Effective, long-term planning is the key to business success. This principle needs to be applied to green organizations as well.
Before implementing a green strategy, you must answer the following questions:
- How will I communicate my green business philosophy to my customers?
- How will running a green business affect my revenue stream?
- How will adopting green business strategies change my monthly expenses? Will they increase or decrease them?
- How will my company finance green upgrades and other investments?
The biggest mistake that too many green businesses make is being overly optimistic with these forecasts. Take the time to collect objective data and make your decisions accordingly. This will help you run a much more profitable green business.
Not considering the benefits of green printing
Too many companies believe that going paperless is the only way to run a green organization. Unfortunately, going 100% paperless it’s not feasible for most companies.
Rather than aim for an unrealistic goal, consider the option of using a more environmentally friendly printer. It won’t be perfect, but it will be better than the alternative.
According to experts from Doranix, environmental printers have several benefits:
- They can process paper that has been completely recycled.
- They consume less energy than traditional printers.
- They use ink that is more environmentally friendly.
You want to take a look at different green printers and compare them. You’ll find that some will meet your needs as a green business.
Poorly communicating your green business strategy to customers
Brand positioning doesn’t happen on its own. If you want to run a successful green business, you must communicate your message to customers as clearly as possible. You must also avoid the appearance that you are patronizing them.
The best approach is to be clear when you were first making the change. I’ll make an announcement about your company‘s commitment to sustainability.
You also want to reinforce this message overtime by using green labels on all of your products. You don’t have to be blatant with your messaging at this stage. Simply provide a small, daily reminder on your products and invoices.
Finally, it is a good idea to participate in green business seminars and other events. If your community has a local Green Chamber of Commerce, you should consider joining as well.
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