Over 2.5 tonnes of netting hauled from Cornish beach by Global Ghost Gear Initiative

11 September 2015

World Animal Protection team up with Surfers Against Sewage to remove fishing nets which have blighted Perranporth beach for over a year

Lost and abandoned fishing gear is causing irreparable damage to the world’s oceans. Experts from around the world met in London this week to launch the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI), marking the start of an action plan to tackle this urgent problem.

Showcased for the launch was a unique Cornish project between World Animal Protection UK and Surfers Against Sewage where they removed two large nets from Perranporth beach earlier this year. The full story of how the team dug out the nets can be viewed here.

Lost and abandoned fishing gear, also known as ’ghost gear’, poses a significant threat to the health and productivity of our oceans. Each year sees the appearance of new ghost gear due to factors such as extreme weather events, accidental loss or deliberate disposal at sea. Mostly made of plastic with a life expectancy of up to 600 years, ghost gear accumulates in our oceans at an estimated rate of 640,000 tonnes per year or one tonne of ghost gear per 125 tonnes of fish caught.

This causes huge devastation to marine habitats as it continues to catch, entangle and kill hundreds of species including seals, turtles, dolphins and whales.

In order to remove this ghost gear from the Cornish environment and enable it to be recycled, the team took two large diggers and heavy machinery to retrieve the debris. Over two days they worked hard to ensure that these potential threats were permanently removed and the coastline protected.

A World Animal Protection worker looks on while a digger collects fishing gearGhost fishing gear on one of the two diggers. 

Ghost gear is an underreported problem that is killing the animals of our world’s oceans. The loss of fishing gear needs to be better quantified, monitored and ultimately prevented by positive collaborations between the fishing industry and other interested parties.

We are very proud of the GGGI, and this Cornish net removal project shows just how by uniting efforts we can move towards a future where ghost gear no longer poses an ever-growing threat to our oceans or the animals that live in them.

Dom Ferris, from Surfers Against Sewage, removes gear in bags from the beachDom Ferris, from Surfers Against Sewage, removes gear in bags from the beach. 

Dom Ferris, from Surfers Against Sewage explained: “This huge pile of ghost gear had resisted all attempts to remove it for over a year and was both a hazard and an eyesore on this beautiful beach, so we jumped at the chance to put together a team to remove it. The immense effort of the community volunteers who donated their time and heavy machinery exemplified the appetite to tackle the ghost gear issue in our coastal communities. We’re proud of this achievement but acutely aware of the scale of the problem, that’s why we’re committed members of the GGGI”

A team remove a large amount of netting from the beachThe team remove a heavy net from the beach. 

The GGGI, driven by World Animal Protection, has brought also together leading experts, including the United Nations Environment Programme, the Marine Stewardship Council, Young’s Seafood Limited and Australia’s Northern Prawn Fishery to share their knowledge and expertise to ensure safer, cleaner oceans.

Visit www.ghostgear.org  for more details or follow the Twitter campaign @MoveTheWorldUK using #ghostgear

A digger on the beach lifting a large amount of fishing gearGear removed from rocks on the beach taken to be recycled. 

We are very proud of the GGGI, and this Cornish net removal project shows just how by uniting efforts we can move towards a future where ghost gear no longer poses an ever-growing threat to our oceans or the animals that live in them.

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