Discarded fishing gear at Rye Harbour is ‘accident waiting to happen’

Discarded fishing nets on the banks of the river Rother
Discarded fishing nets on the banks of the river Rother

A walker is calling for more to be done in tackling discarded fishing ghost gear.

Tony Welwig, of Rye Road, Guestling, said he found eight piles of two-inch square fish netting along the shoreline in the stretch behind Coastguard Square at Rye Harbour while on a recent walk.

He said: “The contents could be as damaging to wildlife as a forgotten minefield could be to human beings. A furthur five boxes contained similar gill netting, and littering the area too were plastic pails, large polypropylene bags, sharp metallic objects, ropes, wire, deteriorating frameworks covered in torn netting, and containers of various sizes and made of a variety of materials.

“Grass and other plants were growing through the netting and between the spaces of the piled-up debris indicating that the dangerous rubbish had been there a long time. I collected six clumps of the gill netting and squashed them into carrier bags that I always carry with me for such litter collection eventualities.

“The other piles I had to leave for it was far too much to take away and dispose of.”

He said according to the charity World Animal Protection, in excess of 640,000 tons of netting, traps and fishing line are discarded and lost in seas, river estuaries and along coastlines every year.

He added: “Plastic fishing gear can persist in the waters for up to 600 years and entangled animals can suffer painful deaths lasting months or even years. This abandoned netting and other dangerous debris is begging for a tragedy to happen. Soon it may become dislodged at high tide and in times of flooding and be washed into the river system to cause misery and havoc to wildlife.

“I am aghast at why this ghost gear has been left lying on the banks of the river Rother. It totals many hundreds of square feet at a conservative estimate and is only a strong football kick’s distance from the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve.”

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