Welsh Fisherman Wins Award for Protecting Animals

01 December 2017

John O'Connor, chairman of the Welsh Federation of Sea Anglers, has won our Sea Change Champion Award for his work to protect animals from fishing litter.

As part of his tireless campaigning and engagement work, John worked with volunteer divers, Neptune’s Army of Rubbish Cleaners (NARC), to create leaflets and tips on keeping Pembrokeshire’s coast free of fishing tackle litter. 

Lost or discarded fishing tackle, or ghost gear, has a devastating impact on marine animals and the environment. Snagged lines, lost tackle, fishing weights and lines can entangle crabs, lobsters, birds and seals and can take more than 600 years to break down in the sea. 

John’s tackle tips include:

  • Fishing in high water to minimise snags 
  • Using hooks that will straighten to minimise lost tackle and biodegradable line 
  • Using 25-30lb breaking strain line straight through (no shock leader) when bottom fishing on the sea bed, or feathering/spinning with lures up in the water, to allow you to pull free of snags 

John's tackle tips

Chiara Vitali, our Campaigns Manager said, “John’s work with organisations such as NARC is promoting great ways for fishermen to reduce the amount of ghost gear entering the sea. He is a great example of how volunteer groups can work together with fishermen to protect animals and the environment.” 

John O'Connor said, “Small changes to the way we do things can have a big difference on our seas, especially if a significant number of us buy into them.” 

John was nominated by NARC who worked with him on the leaflets and a Pembrokeshire Marine Code App which he has helped promote to fishermen across Wales.  

An estimated 640,000 tonnes of fishing equipment is left, lost or thrown away in seas globally each year and the impact of this ‘ghost gear’ on animals and the marine environment is staggering.  

We lead the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) which includes businesses, organisations, individuals and government departments committed to tackling the issue of ghost gear. The work of people like John on the ground shows that everyone from fishermen to supermarkets has a role to play. 

For profiles of the winner and more information about the award please click here. To find out more about how the GGGI members are working together to take on the issue please click here.  

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