Ghost Fishing UK shocked at discovering drowned sea birds

Image: Fred Nunn

Ocean conservation charity Ghost Fishing UK discovered four drowned sea birds, identified as cormorants, caught up in a lost fishing net in Lyme Bay in October 2022.

The charity of volunteer scuba divers responds to reports of lost fishing gear (ghost gear) from divers and fishermen, by surveying and then removing the lost gear which continues to fish, unseen.

Lost fishing gear is a global problem, with an estimated 640,000 lost into the oceans each year. Locally, it can have a significant impact on the local wildlife, ocean habitats and it’s not just fish that succumb to the hidden threat.

Fred Nunn, Operations Officer for the charity explains, “We received reports from Jessica Hannah at Teign Dive Centre of a gill net across the wreck of the Galicia, so we quickly put a team together. We were worried about the weather being near the end of season, but we found the net and the trapped animals.”

The divers soon came across four dead cormorants. The diving sea birds were tangled in a lost gill net that was strewn across the breadth of the wreck. The divers also came across a trapped pollack and ballan wrasse that were both still alive and freed from the net. Edible crabs and lobsters were among the trapped sea life and in total eleven animals were freed but another eight had died in the ghost net.

Jessica Hannah from Teign Diving Centre was very happy to welcome the charity for their first mission on board Seaquest, “The Galicia is one of our most regularly used dive sites and is full of life. It was heart-breaking to find a ghost net hanging over the wreck and entangling everything that crossed its path – a real killer of a net. Having Ghost Fishing UK out to clear this away, we’re so thankful for their help with this. Great to know the net can’t harm anything else down there, and we’re all so pleased to have had such a professional organisation out to sort it out.”