Fishermen gathered 22 tons of ghost nets

In 2012, the Polish and Lithuanians fishermen collected a total of 22 tons of lost and abandoned fishing nets in the Baltic Sea. These so-called ghost nets are a burden to the Baltic Sea fish stocks, and kill birds and marine mammals. The sites where abandoned nets are easily collected are summarized in an interactive map where anyone who visits the Baltic Sea may add information to.

Last year, the ghost nets in the Baltic Sea had a total length of about 135 kilometers, which is equivalent to a trip from Helsinki to Kotka. Removing the nets is a mutual project of WWF Poland, Lithuania, the WWF and the Baltic Sea 2020 Foundation.

“Abandoned and lost fishing nets are silent killers which can catch all kinds of creatures. They do not only catch fish, but also birds and marine mammals, “says conservation expert Matti Ovaska WWF Finland.

Ghost nets in the Baltic Sea put pressure on consumption fish stocks. Three months after the nets are abandoned, the nets continue to fish at 20 percent of their original capacity. After a couple of years, the fishing capacity is decreased to about six per cent.

“Ghost nets do have a negative impact on fish stocks, and the caught fish never gets on our tables,” says Ovaska.

Each year, 5500 to 10.000 fish nets are lost in the Baltic Sea. This means a total of up to 95 tonnes of fishing gear. Besides removing the nets, it is important to look fore ways to reduce this number.

wwflogoWWF Poland, Lithuania, the WWF and the Baltic Sea 2020 Foundation, have compiled an interactive map of the most important locates where fishing nets are stuck, such as ships and boat wrecks. The map and its content of spatial data is open to anyone on the Internet. Baltic parties, interested in net removal, can also add data about sites with abandoned nets. Website and spatial data are available in English, Polish and Lithuanian.

“We hope fishermen, divers and other sources of mobile data will expand the map and its data. Since the data collected will contribute to the ghost net removal, the number of people who actively participate are an important factor in the success of the project, “says fisheries expert Piotr Prędki of WWF Poland.

“If someone in Finland is interested in working with us, we hope they will get in touch with us”, says Matti Ovaska WWF Finland.

For more information:

Protection expert Matti Ovaska, WWF Finland, 040 727 3149, matti.ovaska@wwf.fi
Fishing expert Piotr Prędki, WWF Poland, +48 608 633 319, ppredki@wwf.pl

In Vilnius, Lithuania there will be a closing seminar about ghost nets, from 18 to 19 March, organized by WWF Poland, Lithuania, the WWF and the Baltic Sea 2020 Foundation. For information about and participation contact Robertas Staponkusille: robertas.s@glis.lt, +370 6 555 60 93 before March 4th.

Source: WWF Finland