Ta’ Gillieru is located on the north-facing coast of Malta on the peninsula of St Paul’s Bay, Bugibba, and Qawra. It is a sheltered artificial beaching spot that attracts numerous visitors yearly. Its environs are rich in entertainment including restaurants, shops and bars.
The area around the cleanup location is a wide promenade suitable for walks at any time during the day. The promenade connects with the breakwater that shelters the mooring boats from northerly winds. It hugs around the water where several activities occur: fishermen preparing their lines, a harbour boat collecting and unloading tourists, water sports activities, and even swimming.
A total of 1002 kilograms of trash was brought to the surface. The value is composed of numerous materials that do not get recycled. The most collected material were plastics, that weighed just over 300 kilograms. The runner-up was a number of tyres that altogether weighed 250 kilograms, followed by metal pieces weighing 143kilograms.
One of the main endeavours of the day was to recover a ghost net that was placed on the main cleanup boat. The net was recovered during previous dives and is one of the longest nets the NGO has ever faced. With the help of several volunteers, the ghost net was carefully brought off the boat and spread out on land revealing its length. The volunteers got to experience handling a ghost net which was in fact a strenuous task if done alone.
Ghost nets are abandoned fishing lines, whether lost or discarded in a body of water. They travel along currents until they get caught on a jagged rock and become entangled. Sadly, ghost nets are the major contributors that make up fishing gear that ends up in the sea causing major chaos to marine life. They trap and kill numerous animals including dolphins, sharks, turtles, fish and even avifauna species. Moreover, ghost nets drag along surfaces and smother coral reefs killing anything in its way.
There are several reasons why fishing nets transform into ghost nets. In fact, the discarding of the nets is often unintentional.
Nevertheless, it is difficult to properly understand the full extent of the impacts ghost nets have on the environment. However, their effect on marine life is detrimental and certainly the main source for marine fatalities. Ghost nets are some of the main polluting objects that kill animals not only from entanglement. Some animals ingest part of the fishing gear and end up suffering from an array of anatomical issues including sepsis, starvation, gastrointestinal tract perforation and obstruction. Ghost nets are a worldwide issue and have to be tackled as a unit. Their consequences outweigh their benefit and once their use is controlled, our oceans’ biodiversity will recover.
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