Fishermen share tips on reducing ghost gear

4 August 2016, at 1:00am

A new short film featuring fishermen in Wales, working as part of the Pembrokeshire Sustainable Shellfish Initiative, shares top tips on how fishermen can reduce ghost gear.

‘Ghost gear’ is used to describe nets, pots, lines and ropes that have been lost or discarded at sea. Gear loss happens for a number of reasons, from adverse weather to gear conflict.

Lost gear is expensive to replace, can continue to fish and cause problems for wildlife. Fish stocks are affected by ghost gear and it poses a safety hazard for vessels.

Two of the fishermen featured in the World Animal Protection short film are trialling fast degrading hooks for escape hatches on lobster pots and hog rings with a weak link mechanism.

Another interviewee is with an environmental diver from Neptune’s Army of Rubbish Cleaners, explaining how the project he runs is reuniting lost lobster pots with their rightful owners to save them money and protect the seas.

“If the pots do get lost it will limit the amount of sea life being stuck in the pots actively ghost fishing. If the pot is lost then the hatch will open and anything stuck can find its way out. I feel all fishermen have got a responsibility to look after the stocks, there has to be something left for tomorrow,” said Simon Thomas, one of the fishermen in the film.

Campaign Manager at World Animal Protection UK, Christina Dixon, said: “Ghost gear will haunt your business and can come at a real cost to any fisherman. We are already working with fishermen who are part of the solution and are following the simple advice we are sharing to protect their fishing ground for the future. We look forward to hearing from others interested to trial these, or similar methods in their fisheries.”

A few of the tips on the new site include:

  • Installing escape hatches on all pots to enable juveniles to escape
  • Weighting post so they don’t move in high currents or tidal changes
  • Reporting lost gear if it can’t be recovered safely
  • Securing lids and escape panels with biodegradable cotton escape cord to enable escape of all captured marine life if lost
  • Weighting lines to sink below surface and avoid being cut by passing boats