The initial phase of Healthy Seas has focused mainly on activities in the North Sea pilot region and resulted in recovering 20 tons of fishing nets. In 2014, we are delighted to announce that the project will be extended to two other regional pilots in the Adriatic and Mediterranean Sea.
The Adriatic Sea with its delicate reefs and plentiful wrecks that provide habitat to many marine species poses a particular challenge to our clean-up activities. The Healthy Seas diving team is allowed to clean up derelict fishing gear from all reefs and some selected wrecks. Furthermore we are identifying other suitable locations for clean-up actions and will establish a waste fishing net reception facility in the region. As part of the Adriatic Sea project we are coordinating programs across Italy, Slovenia and Croatia to raise awareness and prevent future pollution.
Only looking at the Spanish Cantabric Sea, about 6.000 fishing nets are lost every year (UNEP and WFO report, 2009). In Spain, our initiative works hard on running clean-up activities as well as engaging with salvage companies, fishermen and other stakeholders on prevention and awareness-raising. We are in the process of establishing a waste net collection point in Vigo, Spain.
Apart from these two new pilots we additionally continue working in the North Sea region. One severe threat to the ecosystem of the North Sea is ghost fishing with its significantly negative effect on overexploited fish species. In addition, large amounts of lost or abandoned plummets and hooks cause lead deposits that contribute to the pollution of the North Sea.
As shipwrecks are very important for the marine biodiversity, Healthy Seas started cleaning-up waste nets from some of the 56 wrecks in the Dutch and Belgian North Sea. In 2014 we expect to collect approximately 40 tons of waste fishing nets in this region. The recovered fishing nets are stored in a facility in Den Oever, the Netherlands.