GGGI collaboration removes and recycles derelict fishing nets

Four tonnes of derelict fishing nets removed from iconic United Kingdom surf beach and sent for recycling by Global Ghost Gear Initiative members.

GGGI members World Animal Protection and Surfers Against Sewage recently worked together in Perranporth, Cornwall to remove several tonnes of derelict fishing nets and other fishing litter that had washed up on the iconic surf beach.

The nets, estimated to have been in situ for nearly two years, were a significant hazard to marine animals and their habitats. They were also posing a safety risk for surfers and beach visitors. The nets were identified during the regular community beach clean ups as being too large to remove by hand. But the GGGI provided an avenue to reclaim and recycle these materials through NGO and industry collaboration.

Christina Dixon, Campaigner at World Animal Protection, said:

World Animal Protection is delighted to see the GGGI brought to life through cross-sectoral projects like this which remove and recycle ghost fishing gear. We hope this is the first of many GGGI-driven collaborations towards safer, cleaner oceans.

The logistics of the project were coordinated by environmental NGO, Surfers Against Sewage, who brought in local volunteers and suitable machinery to dig, drag and remove the large mass of nets from two locations on the beach. The nets, weighing in at 3.8 tonnes, were then assessed by Tom Rees from recycling company GWR polymers, who helped the team ascertain what material could be salvaged and recycled from the haul.

Tom currently runs a project which collects end-of-life fishing nets from several ports across the South West UK and recycles them into valuable plastic components for cars and manufacturing.

Due to the high content of high-density polyethylene (HTPE) among the haul, the nets were transported to the SITA domestic materials recycling facility in Bodmin where they were sampled and assessed for recycling. The staff at SITA are confident they will be able to work with the nets, opening up possibilities for future recycling of recovered derelict fishing gear.