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Although the conservation and environmental impacts of marine litter are gaining increasing attention, the effects on individual animals remain poorly understood and unaddressed. This is despite litter being acknowledged as one of the most significant animal welfare problems in the oceans.
This is why WSPA is developing a new global campaign to address the animal welfare impacts of marine litter. Our campaign will work to prevent the suffering caused when marine animals become entangled in or choked by our dangerous rubbish. The Untangled symposium was developed as a global forum for expert discussion, to enable identification of the key animal welfare problems associated with marine litter and the best solutions to them, and to inform the focus and approach of WSPA’s new campaign.
WSPA’s six core objectives for the symposium were:
Prior to the symposium, to capture current knowledge from published and grey literature, WSPA commissioned animal welfare scientist and veterinarian Dr Andrew Butterworth (University of Bristol, UK) to produce a global status review report.
This report, entitled Untangled – Marine debris: A global picture of the impact on animal welfare and of animal focussed solutions (2012), looks at the marine litter issue from the unique perspective of the threat that it poses to the welfare of animals.
It considers the likely harms caused by key litter types, looks at the different species affected and provides some estimates of the numbers of animals harmed. Some inspiring solutions to the problem of marine litter are also showcased.