Eastbourne Sustainable Fisherman Wins Award for Tackling Ghost Fishing Gear

13 June 2016, at 1:00am

UK - Graham Doswell a small scale fisherman from Eastbourne, East Sussex, has won World Animal Protection UKs Sea Change Champion Award, for tackling the problem of ghost fishing gear - abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing items such as nets, lines and pots.

The award is given to a leading individual who is tackling the problem and reducing the impact of lost fishing gear on the marine environment. As part of its Sea Change Campaign World Animal Protection UK works with the fishing industry to prevent all fishing gear from entering UK waters and develop sustainable solutions and the award is a key part of this.

Commenting on the winner, Sea Change UK Campaign Manager, Christina Dixon, said: “Graham stood out as someone who is environmentally-minded, works hard to promote responsible fishing and acts as a community ambassador for recycling fishing nets when they have come to the end of their life. This type of solution is something we hope to see happening in more ports around the country as we all work together to close the loop on fishing gear.

“The people that this award has highlighted have made an outstanding contribution to addressing ghost gear, from modifications to fishing equipment, to limiting the impact of ghost fishing, to championing schemes designed to recover ghost gear and finding solutions to recycle equipment at the end of its life. We believe these practices are the future of sustainable fishing and provide practical and affordable examples for fishers to reduce the impact of ghost gear on the marine environment and protect marine animals.”

Graham was nominated by local businessman, Harry Owen from MCB Seafoods, East Sussex, who has been instrumental in establishing net collection points for fishermen in the UK and was impressed by Graham’s attitude to the scheme.

Nominees included:

  • Jim Evans, Chairman of the Welsh Fishermen’s Association for working with experts and other fishermen to design a search and recovery project to both assess and address the ghost gear issue

  • Jim Partridge, local fisherman of Monteum Ltd, Shoreham-by-Sea for his handmade 'Lobster Parlour Pots' made of durable plastic and rubber which are less likely to get snapped off a boat and include an optional escape hatch for young fish

  • Pembrokeshire Sustainable Shellfish Pilot Initiative for trialling fishing gear modifications intended to reduce ghost fishing from pots should they become inadvertently lost

An estimated 640,000 tonnes of fishing gear are abandoned, lost or discarded in oceans globally each year. The impact of this ‘ghost gear’ on animals and the marine environment is staggering.