Fisheries and Oceans Canada has launched a project to get people in the Twillingate area to stop using plastic shopping bags, which are a hazard to the endangered leatherback turtle.

As part of World Oceans Day, DFO's Twillingate detachment gave out 4,000 re-usable bags to eight grocery stores in the region on Monday.

DFO world oceans day bag

DFO is giving out cloth bags like this to eight grocery stores in central Newfoundland in an effort to encourage people to stop using plastic bags. (DFO)

Fisheries officer Morgan Oake says there's just too much plastic on beaches and in the ocean that are killing species like the leatherback turtle, which is what inspired them to launch the project.

"Plastic bags are a real problem with the environment and marine species," he told CBC's Central Morning

"Plastic bags in the water resemble jellyfish, which is one of the [leatherback turtle's] main food sources. They ingest them, it blocks their digestive system and it's fatal."

Oake said DFO is challenging people to use the bags for one year, so it becomes a habit.

"Anyone can change if they put the effort in. Maybe they'll keep some in their vehicle, so when they do get to the store they can use them. Every plastic bag that turtle eats means we lose another one of an endangered species."

With files from Central Morning