In murky, green water deep below Portland Harbour in the UK, something is going on. A team of Healthy Seas and Ghost Fishing UK volunteer divers are on a mission, grappling with a 100m gill net (that’s a net that’s hung vertically so fish get trapped in it by their gills), that’s heavily entangled in seaweed and ocean plant matter with the aim of bringing it to the surface. It’s a sorry sight. The net is tangled with fish, spider crabs, and even a diving bird. All have been fatally caught in the net abandoned in the sea surrounding the harbour.
This scene - released by Healthy Seas on their Instagram page - is typical of what the initiative does. Cut to Lipari, one of the Aeolian Islands off Sicily. There 10 Ghost Fishing divers, with the support of Healthy Seas, have retrieved five tonnes of abandoned fishing nets from the seabed in six days. Scoring another success by engaging the local community, divers and fishermen to continue their work once this project is complete.
The group, which launched in 2013, is an initiative of non governmental organisations and businesses. Their common mission is to clean the seas of marine litter including fishing nets that are often responsible for the needless death of marine animals. Each year, millions of animals including whales, seals, turtles, birds and fish are injured and killed by ghost gear, or abandoned fishing nets.
Last year alone Healthy Seas sent 100 volunteer divers across 27 fishing communities to collect 78 tonnes of fishing nets from three seas, the Mediterranean, Adriatic and North Seas. That brings their total haul since launch to 453 tonnes of fishing nets.
Meanwhile, the team also collaborate with fishermen, fish farms and local communities to prevent waste nets from ending up in the sea in the first place, working with them to dispose of nets responsibly and affordably.
While creating healthier seas is the first part of this mission - recycling the marine litter into something useful is the next. The recovered nylon fishing nets are sent on to Healthy Seas partners Aquafil, the company who transform them, with the addition of other nylon waste into ECONYL® yarn, which we make into some of The OTHER Bag range.
There’s clearly a lot to do. Healthy Seas say that each year, approximately 640,000 tonnes of fishing gear is lost or abandoned in the ocean. But by working with communities to prevent the nets being abandoned in the first place and completing the rescue missions, action is being taken now. And taking action, is what we need.
It’s a process we’re passionate about being a part of, one where we can see clearly where and how Healthy Seas are helping to make an impact on marine pollution. And is why we at The OTHER Bag support them, by donating 1% of each recycled foldable tote bag and recycled pouch sold to fund their work.
Learn more about Healthy Seas.
Visit https://healthyseas.org/ to learn more about their recent mission to help save seahorse populations in the Mediterranean, where they’re classified as near threatened. In May this year in Stratoni, Northern Greece Healthy Seas volunteer divers returned to complete a second fishing nets clean up. There the nets have been catching and killing fish and other marine animals near a seahorse habitat. The carcasses attract predators that hunt seahorses. Their removal should restore the ecological balance in the area and help the survival of the species.
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