GGGI participants launch a project to collect Ghost Gear in Cornwall, UK.

Cornish marine conservation volunteers and GGGI participant, Fathoms Free, dive with World Animal Protection, on Saturday April 8 from Penzance harbour to uncover fishing litter deep in coastal waters. Cornwall media has recently reported both seals and whales caught in ghost gear locally.  

The sea dive is the first official dive in a series of 12 within the project, from a new rib boat funded by World Animal Protection for the group. Tonnes have been found in the sea and washed up on the Cornish shore, research commissioned by the charity revealed.

The new boat is crucial for surveying and cleaning up debris hotspots around Cornwall, and is part of a collaborative project with GGGI participants Fathoms Free, World Animal Protection and Fourth Element. Fourth Element have kindly given a second support boat to maximise coverage on the day.

Already, researchers in Cornwall reported tonnes of fishing gear, lost or abandoned in Cornish waters and coast last year. GGGI participant, Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust, discovered 50 tonnes over a year and rescued trapped seals, sea birds and other marine wildlife.

On Saturday, the Fathoms Free crew head to St Michael’s Mount with a support boat alongside to recover a large fishing net on the ocean floor. Fathoms Free has recovered some 8.5 tonnes of litter over two years. This new boat allows them to widen their searches and reach areas only accessible by boat.

Fathoms Free reuse and recycle the litter, some has been transformed into works of art such as their mascot, Casper the Cormorant, and some will be recycled to return to the sea as ocean kayaks, bodyboards and other exciting products, thus creating a circular economy and aiding further conservation efforts in the area.

Rob Thompson, the group’s founder said

“The inspiration behind Fathoms Free comes from witnessing community led change from others who sacrifice their time and energy to preserve our ecosystem. Through the self-perpetuation cycle of inspiring one another to drive change, we believe that collaboratively we will succeed in safeguarding the future of our seas. The time for waiting for change is over; it is time to be the change.”

Fathom’s Free and GGGI are looking for additional funders for this project. If you wish to contribute to the funding of this project or would like more information, then please get in touch with Christabel Sadgrove on GGGI@worldanimalprotection.org, and Rob Thompson on cookson86@yahoo.co.uk

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