On Saturday 8th April 2017, Fathoms Free had their official boat launch from Penzance in Cornwall named “Casper” after our cormorant mascot. The boat was funded mainly by the global charity World Animal Protection but also received some funding thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery and a private individual.
Also thank you to Sea-Changers for funding some of the safety equipment for the RHIB – ie 4 new life jackets and an offshore flare pack.
Why do we need a boat?
In our latest project, we are using our boat to do underwater retrievals and beach cleans of otherwise inaccessible coves to recover ghost fishing gear and marine debris. We’re working alongside World Animal Protection whose research revealed 640,000 tonnes of lost or discarded fishing gear pollutes our oceans every year, which can have serious implications for the welfare of marine animals, fisher safety, livelihoods and biodiversity. We also work with The Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust who identified 50 tonnes of ghost gear on the Cornish beaches over a year and rescued trapped seals, seabirds and other marine wildlife.
How did the day go?
The day started off nice and early with the weather gorgeous and sunny. We had the BBC conducting interviews with Chiara (World Animal Protection), Sue (Cornwall Seal Group) along with several members from the team including Rob Thompson (founder of Fathoms Free).
We also had 3 Fathoms Free volunteers conducting a beach clean in which 5 bags were completely filled in just a couple of hours, most debris being monofilament fishing line. There was also a dead seal that had been washed up the day before and duly reported to the Marine Strandings Network (no obvious cause of death).
Images below courtesy of Rannva Jormundsson and Hannah Wilson
“Casper” was launched along with “Odyssey” who was our supporting Rhib for the day helping out from our friends at Fourth Element. 5 divers and 3 crew headed off with Odyssey to survey a recent wreck “FV Conqueror” which was a large fully laden fishing trawler that ran aground in a storm back in 1977 a few miles south of Penzance. It took only seconds to find a large amount of thick trawl net over the wreckage which was recorded in prep for a retrieval dive later on.
We all headed back to Harbour for some well earned lunch in the sun and a break/catch up before heading back out again. After a comprehensive safety briefing, the divers went down and used professional lift bags (some donated from World Animal Protection) to attach and cut away at sections of this threatening trawl net. The lift bags were inflated and the net was then sent up to the surface where the boat crew could hawl it into the boat.
We then headed back to Harbour for the last time with the large pieces of net inside the rhib where it will soon be sent off to Plastics Global to be recycled into pellets, which we then buy back to turn into items such as kayaks.
So a big thank you to everyone who helped contribute to our special event.
Links below to various articles from the day…
Divernet article (05/04/2017)
ITV – West Country article (08/04/2017)
Cornwall Seal Group (CSGRT) partnering article (published 09/04/2017)
BBC Spotlight article (shown 10/04/2017) with footage from Natallia Paliakova
BBC Radio Cornwall (broadcast 10/04/2017)
World Animal Protection article (12/04/2017)
CornwallLive article (15/04/2017)
Underwater footage of net retrieval from Dave Perry