Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust

2018 05 17 Entnagled juvenile male grey seal c Sue Sayer (1).JPG

Project Overview

In partnership with GGGI participant Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust (CSGRT), World Animal Protection commissioned the first ever assessment on exactly how ghost fishing gear is affecting the coastline of Cornwall and posing a threat to marine life.

Between November 2014 and October 2015, Cornwall Seal Group members and lots of other highly motivated volunteers surveyed the ghost gear washed up on the beaches around Cornwall (and parts of Devon and the Isles of Scilly too). In addition, 26 systematic boat based coastal ghost gear survey transects were repeated covering the same 115km stretch of Cornwall’s north coast (total survey distance 2990km). A wide range of ghost gear items were photographed around most of Cornwall’s 700km of coastline (north and south coasts), offshore islands and in the open sea with 4226 new items totaling 49917 litres (or 51 tonnes) during the 12 month study period (30 tonnes can equate to the size of a 45ft sperm whale.)

As well as recording the amount and type of the gear CSGRT also assessed the risk posed by ghost gear to marine species and recorded numerous entanglement events: at least 52 individuals (and numerous mussels and pink sea fans) from 12 species of marine life (including seals, birds, crabs and fish) were photographed entangled in ghost gear.


From these surveys, a report was produced. You can read the case study on the impact of ghost fishing gear in Cornwall, UK

Highlights of this research explores the severity of the ghost gear problem by assessing:

  • The types of ghost gear present along the coastline of Cornwall.

  • The amount of ghost gear present (volume and number of items) along the coastline of Cornwall.

  • The interaction and entanglement risks posed to marine animals.

Click here to read the case study on the impact of ghost fishing gear in Cornwall, UK.

Since 2015, CSGRT have continued this land and boat based ghost gear research on a voluntary basis in partnership with Patagonia, Tesco’s Bags of Help and Sea-Changers (who have funded the boat charters). As a result, four entire years of data have now been collected voluntarily on the critical issue of ghost gear and World Animal Protection have again funded CSGRT to report on this data.

Key contacts

Sue Sayer - Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust

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