Recycled sculptures reveal how ghost fishing gear endangers marine life

13 January 2015

UK artist Katrina Slack creates sculptures from lost and abandoned fishing gear in support of the Sea Change campaign

Take a look at these amazing animal sculptures by artist Katrina Slack - made from lost and abandoned fishing nets salvaged from UK beaches. 

640,000 tonnes of ghost fishing gear is left in our oceans every year - trapping, injuring and killing hundreds of thousands of whales, seals, turtles and birds. It's a global problem that we're tackling with our Sea Change campaign.

Artist Katrina Slack with World Animal Protection Campaigns Officer, Christina Dixon

Artist Katrina Slack with World Animal Protection Campaigns Officer, Christina Dixon

The fishing gear used to make the sculptures was found on beaches across the UK during Surfers Against Sewage’s Autumn Beach Clean Series. We teamed up with Surfers Against Sewage to help organise the beach cleans in October last year.

Beach cleaners were urged to pay particular attention to ghost fishing gear as this has a huge impact on marine animal welfare.

A collection of recovered ghost gear on a beachGear found on Penhale beach during the Autumn Beach Clean Series

Over one weekend, 3,000 volunteers removed 150 kilometres of ghost gear from 123 beaches. By collaborating with St Ives artist Katrina, we have been able to recycle some of the gear found during the clean ups to create the large mammal sculptures.

We will be taking the sculptures to events throughout 2015 to highlight the impact of ghost gear on marine animals. 

A seal sculpture made out of fishing gear on the beachSeal sulpture on Carbis Bay, January 2015

Katrina has already made a three metre dolphin and a two metre seal. In the coming months will be making a lifesize leatherback turtle, a minke whale and a gannet – examples of the species particularly at risk from ghost fishing gear.

A sculpture of a dolphin made out of fishing gearSculpture of a dolphin

Katrina Slack said “I was delighted to be asked to take part in this project for World Animal Protection as it is a cause that I feel passionately about. I have been a lifelong environmental campaigner and artist and I have worked for many years with debris washed up from beaches.

"It is a privilege to live near the Cornish coast and I am saddened to think of the impact this ghost gear could be having on our local wildlife. I hope these sculptures are able to draw attention to the campaign and encourage people to think about how they can help as well as raising awareness to the real crisis our oceans and its wildlife are in.”
 

What is ghost gear? 

It is estimated that 640,000 tonnes of discarded and lost fishing gear or ghost gear is left in our oceans each year. Every year, this ghost fishing gear indiscriminately traps, injures and kills hundreds of thousands of whales, seals, turtles and birds.

The gear can wrap around a limb or the neck of an animal causing decapitation, amputation, infections and sometimes death. Wet gear can be incredibly heavy, trapping animals and leading to drowning, exhaustion or starvation.

Join the Sea Change campaign

Our Sea Change campaign aims to protect marine wildlife from the devastating welfare impacts of ghost fishing gear. 

A turtle caught in fishing gear underwater

Turtle in discarded fishing net. Image: Caroline Robertson-Brown (Frogfish Photography)

We will be organising further beach cleans in 2015, watch this space for more information on how you can help us make a Sea Change.

Help us end the suffering caused by ghost gear. Sign up for updates and information about the Sea Change campaign >>

"I am saddened to think of the impact this ghost gear could be having on our local wildlife. I hope these sculptures are able to draw attention to the campaign."
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