Remember the three ‘Rs’ for ghost gear

A seal caught up in old fishing netting.
A seal caught up in old fishing netting.

World Ocean Day was on Friday, June 8, so we thought it was a good time to raise Ghost Gear.

Ghost gear is fishing gear that is lost, dumped or abandoned. It consists of ropes, nets and pots, and is one of the biggest threats to animals in our oceans.

It is estimated that around 640,000 tonnes of ghost gear is left in our oceans annually, taking up to 600 years to decompose.

It makes up around 10 per cent of all plastic waste in the ocean.

More than 100,000 whales, dolphins, seals and turtles get caught up in ghost gear annually.

We need to focus on the three R’s:

• Reduce the amount of ghost gear entering the oceans by fisherman working in partnership with governments and other organisations.

• Remove as much ghost gear from our oceans as possible.

• Rescue the animals that are affected by supporting groups such as the British Divers Marine Life Rescue.

The problem of ghost gear is right here on our own doorstep. We’ve been sent some photographs of seals trapped in old netting by volunteers of the British Divers Marine Life Rescue.

We want to raise awareness of this issue as many people don’t see old fishing gear as plastic pollution.

The ropes and nets are all plastic and break down into even smaller pieces. Bits of rope and netting are littered all over our beaches, and we’ve seen an enormous amount of lobster pots washed up too. Many of these are plastic.

The good news is we can all do something about this.

If you see an abandoned lobster pot or net on the beach, and it’s safe and easy to remove, then please remove it. Take it off the beach entirely so the next high tide doesn’t wash it back into the sea. If it’s stuck in sand or rocks and you can’t remove it, please contact us and we’ll try to get it removed.

If you plan to visit the beach, please take a bag and fill it with plastic, including old rope, and remove it from the beach.

Fishermen can also help by removing ghost gear floating out at sea. Fishermen in Kerala, India, are actively fishing to remove plastic from their oceans.

If you can’t physically help out, you can help campaign online. World Animal Protection is trying to get supermarkets to work with their fish suppliers to stop ghost gear. You can help by sharing its posts.

There are many other online petitions you can sign or share to raise awareness and support.

LitterBugs would like to thank our friends in Low Hauxley, Matty Wilkinson and Dave Cook, for supplying us with a trailer to help remove ghost gear from the beach.

We are now looking for someone to help us by supplying a tool kit suitable for cutting up rope, nets and pots. If you can help, please let us know.

Thanks to the 14 people who turned up at Amble on Sunday, June 3 to clean the beach. It was rather wet, but the weather certainly didn’t put the kids off.

The good news was the lack of rubbish we found. The bad news is we got a lot of rubbish from the beach near Foxton this week, including lobster pots. The rubbish moves with the tides.

Our next litter pick will take place on Sunday, July 15, at 2pm, at the beach behind Druridge Bay Country Park.

You can park in the car park adjacent to the visitor centre and walk through the trees to the beach, or you can park on the roadside next to the beach itself.

Anyone is welcome and equipment will be provided.

You can get in touch with us on Facebook under LitterBugs, or email us at litterbugsnorthumberland@gmail.com