HUGE SUSSEX GHOST GEAR HAUL
Huge load of fatally lost fishing gear removed from the Sussex seabed
Almost 200kg of abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear – also known as ‘Ghost Gear’ – was recovered from the seabed by volunteer divers from the charity Ghost Fishing UK, as part of the a collaborative project with Sussex Wildlife Trust.
Ghost Fishing UK was responding to reports from divers in the Brighton, UK area to locate and monitor lost fishing nets on the sinking Pentyrch, before planning its removal. The SS Pentyrch was a steam freighter that was torpedoed in 1918. Much of the wreckage protrudes from the sandy bottom where it snags or breaks fishing gear, which remains dangerously in place until it can be removed. removed.
It is estimated that 640,000 tonnes of ghost craft are lost at sea each year. Lines, nets and pots continue “ghost fishing”, trapping animals that will never be landed, eventually causing them to starve, drown or suffocate. In turn, dead animals become bait for others, continuing the endless cycle of unnecessary death of marine life.
Undergoing daily Covid-19 testing and observing diligent hygiene practices, the team of specially trained volunteers from Ghost Fishing UK retrieved the net from the Pentyrch and transported it aboard the support diving vessel, Channel Diver, operating out of Brighton Marina. The net will be stored until it can be safely recycled.
The Pentyrch mission is the team’s second venture in the Sussex area this year, which has now recovered 275kg of phantom gear this season in just three dives.
Christine Grosart, Ghost Fishing UK Trustee and Underwater Photographer, said: “The team were delighted to be invited to join the Sussex Wildlife Trust’s ‘Wild Coast Sussex’ project. It was great having them on the boat so they could see what’s going on at the sharp end of our charity, pulling the ghost gear out of the sea and it was great to finally start cleaning up the area from Sussex where we had not been before. spring.’
Rugged Sussex Coast was established with a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and works with the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA) and Brighton SEA LIFE to inspire and connect local communities with the coast and the Sussex Sea and get them involved. in direct action and learning to protect the local environment.
“ It was fantastic to join the Ghost Fishing UK team on a trip to retrieve ghost nets off the Sussex coast and to see firsthand the dedicated work of the divers and the amount of net that they were able to pull it off, ” said Nikki Hills, project manager. for Wild Coast Sussex. “ Removing this net is so important because if left it can trap valuable marine life and add to plastic in the sea. The Wild Coast Sussex Project is very happy to support the work of Ghost Fishing UK and c it’s great to have them in Sussex.
Ghost Fishing UK had been alerted to Pentyrch ghost gear by divers through Ghost Fishing’s online reporting system, which is available to divers, water sports enthusiasts and members of the fishing industry.
“We are very grateful for the reports from the divers on these nets,” Grosart said. “We are also very keen to work with the fishing industry to bring these unfortunate, unintentional losses out of the sea. We urge fishermen to tell us if they have lost any traps or nets so that that we can see if it is possible for us to remove them and then recycle them or, in some cases, return them, keeping them forever out of the ocean. We will soon be launching a reporting system dedicated to fishermen so that they can report losses to us with confidence ”.
Reports on ghost gear can be made to Ghost Fishing UK on the charity’s website at www.ghostfishing.co.uk/report/. Follow the team’s work on Instagram @GhostFishingUK, Facebook @GhostFishingUK and Twitter @ghost_fishinguk