A local diver to Brixham (Peter Glanvill) highlighted this major and persistent problem to us about decades of monofilament fishing line that has formed matted bundles on the sea floor due to the area being a popular fishing area. So we decided to take a road trip and spend the weekend at Brixham to help out, collect some debris and help raise more awareness of ghost gear.
We were told of a lovely friendly campsite close to the dive site called Upton Manor Farm and found this very true. A couple of members stayed over Friday evening while several more arrived throughout Saturday.
It turned out to be a lovely weekend for a dive. The sun was out, sea conditions were good and we were pleased to have some new divers join us!
We all met at the Breakwater car park.
The divers were Rob, Nat, John, Emma, Jan, Peter, Kim, Jed and the skipper Warwick. I was the shore support. Warwick had kindly given up his time and offered his boat for us to use.
On Saturday the plan was half the divers would go in the boat to Hopes Nose and half would do a shore dive adjacent to the Breakwater.
They would swap over in the afternoon.
Hopes Nose is a popular spot for anglers and Peter had alerted us last year to the problem of marine litter here, a large build up of tangled monofilament line and lead.
We did a two day dive here last year and were shocked at the amount of fishing line and weights that were seen and retrieved …….see Dave Perry’s blog from 11/12 June 2016.
The boat left for Hopes Nose and the shore divers went out by the Breakwater.
The Breakwater and its beach is a popular location with anglers, divers, and the general public.
The views are great across the marina and the bay; the cafe is always busy.
On the beach I chatted to the public and told them what we were doing, whilst I picked up a small bag of litter on the beach, waiting for everyone to come back.
The shore divers brought in a small amount of monofilament line and weights along with a boat filter, old fishing reels, drinks cans, rubber stripping and food wrappers.
When the boat came back, the divers had brought up a large mass of tangled fishing line filled with lead weights, lures and hooks.
They also filled buckets with the weights that lay loose on the seabed.
This was as expected as there is so much fishing debris at this location, snagged and tangled up in the seaweed and rocks and submerged in the sand.
We lay it out by the beach and started sorting through it, analysing it and the information would be sent to Project Aware who collect data on marine litter.
After lunch the boat went out to Hopes Nose again with some of the divers; a couple did a shore dive and John helped me on the shore. The boat came in late afternoon with another dumpy bag full of fishing line, an old lobster pot, rope, a buoy and glass bottles. Shocking to see so much in one day. We left it partially submerged on the slipway for a while to allow any marine creatures to swim away.
We decided to call it a day, we were all tired and some of us went to camp overnight at Paignton and enjoyed a very late BBQ!
On the Sunday morning Rob, Nat, Emma, Jan, Peter, Warwick and myself met up at the Breakwater. They had decided today they would retrieve some old lobster/crab pots out in the bay.
So off they went in the boat and I stayed at the top of the slipway and chatted to people while sorting through yesterday’s dumpy bag of now smelly fishing net and laying it out. I also ‘rescued’ a few alien looking worm and slug like creatures. Nice.
It was quite a sight seeing the fishing line, leads and lures laid out on the ground. A lot of people came to look and were shocked at the amount of fishing debris that had been left in the sea.
Someone reported seeing a seal in the area recently, with a hook stuck in the side of it’s mouth. A while back a dead cormorant had been seen entangled in the fishing line at Hopes Nose. Our divers had released a few lobsters and crabs since we started coming here. It just shows how abandoned and lost fishing gear (ghost gear) continues to fish and trap with no monitoring, harming and potentially killing marine life and smothering the habitat.
The divers came back having retrieved 8 Lobster/crab pots which they’d taken to another slipway for disposal.
We put all the debris together and what a lot there was!
5 bags of entangled fishing line, a bag of beach litter, some rope and broken lobster pot, a buoy, glass bottles, drinks cans, fishing reels, piece of rod, crabbing reel, spark plugs, food wrappers and metal pipes. Unfortunately we didn’t have scales so couldn’t weigh it.
John had taken most of the lead weights home yesterday for recycling. Though I did collect a pile today, having cut them from the mass of fishing line in the dumpy bag, while the divers were out. I also cut out a lot of lures and hooks, to show people how potentially harmful they still are when left in environment.
Johns total for the weights came to 145kgs, (with still some to be added) I had started counting them yesterday and gave up at 1000, I estimate the final total over the two days to be at least 1500 and that’s not an exaggeration.
We all agreed it had been a successful and enjoyable weekend, although having cleared a lot of debris, there is still a lot there. We hope to come back and do some more work here in the future.