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135 kilometres of dangerous fishing nets collected in the Baltic Sea

22 thousand kilograms of lost fishing nets remaining in the Baltic were collected in 2012 by Polish and Lithuanian fishermen in the framework of a joint project led by WWF Poland, and carried out in co-operation with the Lithuanian Fund for Nature and the Baltic Sea 2020 Foundation. Its total length amounted to approximately 135 kilometres – a distance equal to the distance form Warsaw to Łódż!

Lost or abandoned fishing nets are silent killers. Left at the sea bottom, they continue to catch indiscriminately fish, birds and sea mammals. The fishing capacity of lost nets, called the ghost nets amounts approximately to 20% of the fishing pressure after 3 months and decreases to 6% after 2 years. Although the ghost nets fish less than new fishing nets, they can negatively impact populations of many fish species, already threatened by overfishing. In addition, fish caught in the ghost nets will never reach our plates.  

- Every year, 5500 to 10 000 nets are lost in the Baltic. This means a total of 52-95 tonnes of fishing nets  – says Piotr Prędki from WWF Poland . – therefore, in parallel to the actions carried out together with fishermen, aimed at collecting the nets in the Baltic Sea, there is a need to elaborate and implement measures that permit to limit the amount of fishing nets  lost at sea.

The interactive map of the “hooks” available at sieciwidma.wwf.pl. is one of possible measures aimed at mitigating the problem of ghost nets. The “hooks” are under-water objects on which fishing nets entangle. The information on the “hooks” located in the Baltic is submitted by sea users and then placed on the map. The map and the database are open to the sea users. Everyone can add an object to the map and to use the database together with the co-ordinates of all reported “hooks”.

- We call upon fishermen and other sea users to add the “hooks” onto the map , as well as to use the database – adds Prędki.  – In the future, the disappearance of the ghost nets from the Baltic depends their involvement.

The are two methods of submitting information to the database. Though the form found at sieciwidma.wwf.pl website or by sending a SMS at the number +48 531 799 702. When submitting an object through SMS, please add its geographical co-ordinates, the depth at which the object remain and its type.* It is also useful to indicate if a fishing net has been entangled on this object and if the location of this subject object has been confirmed in situ. 

For more information:
Piotr Prędki,
E-mail: ppredki@wwf.pl
Phone: +48 608 633 319

*Types of objects marked on the map together with a detailed characteristics can be found on our web site.