Morrisons to tackle waste fishing gear in a bid to save British coastal wildlife

Morrisons has extended its partnership with Odyssey Innovation for another year to tackle waste fishing gear in a bid to save British coastal wildlife and habitats.

Morrisons said it is the first and only supermarket to back a scheme which aims to tackle "ghost fishing gear" in British waters

Over the last four years Morrisons has worked with Odyssey Innovation, a company that recovers and recycles waste marine plastic, to run the Net Regeneration Scheme which has seen fishermen in the South West responsibly recycle 100 tonnes of waste fishing gear to date.

Bradford-based Morrisons said it is the first and only supermarket to back a scheme which aims to tackle "ghost fishing gear" in British waters.

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Working with Odyssey Innovation - and in collaboration with Exeter City Council, Plymouth University and Seafish - Morrisons has helped to install waste skips at 10 ports across the South West to help fishermen to recycle unwanted or unusable gear.

"Ghost fishing gear" includes any abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear, which often goes unseen.

It is one of the deadliest wastes for sea wildlife, accounting for 10 per cent of global marine litter. The United Nations expects the amount of plastic in oceans to treble in the next 20 years.

Odyssey Innovation’s Net Regeneration Scheme is the only one in the UK to offer free recycling of all types of fishing nets.

It includes polyethylene trawl, nylon and other plastic generated by the fishing industry. Everything that can be recycled in the UK is recycled, with specialist companies in Europe recycling problematic materials.

The scheme covers the cost of transporting gear and the full recycling loop, with some plastic waste being turned into sea kayaks. The programme also helps to reduce CO2 by putting recycled plastic back into the economy, which has a significant CO2 saving over using new virgin plastic.

Joe Prosho, aquaculture manager at Morrisons, said: “Morrisons is one of the UK’s biggest suppliers of fresh British fish with our own fishing business in the South West and we are determined to play our full part in cleaning up the oceans to preserve marine life and protect the planet.

"We want to continue our partnership with Odyssey Innovation by supporting the Net Regeneration Scheme to contribute to reducing old fishing gear that is a problem for so much wildlife.”

Rob Thompson, director at Odyssey Innovation, added: “The Net Regeneration Scheme has only been made possible through collaboration and through it, we work closely with the fishing communities, conservation groups, universities and government bodies.

"Working with Morrisons on this project has been an essential part of creating a collaborative scheme that benefits everyone involved. Getting the support from a big British fish supplier to help us, and others, tackle a problem that is growing in our seas, has the added benefit of giving consumers confidence that the seafood they are consuming has been sourced in the most sustainable way.

"Discarded and unwanted fishing gear that is left in the sea can do real damage to our sea wildlife and the Net Regeneration Scheme supports the fishing industry to become the best possible custodians of the sea."

Morrisons has committed to a 50 per cent reduction across its own-brand primary plastic packaging by 2025.

Initiatives introduced over the last 12 months will remove 9,000 tonnes of unnecessary or problematic plastic each year. Over 83 per cent of Morrisons own-brand plastic packaging is now recyclable.

In 2019, Morrisons was voted the most environmentally responsible company in the UK for its work on plastics reduction at the Responsible Business Awards, run by HRH The Prince of Wales’ Business in the Community Network.