What’s in your net?

Although the incident occurred some time ago, I have only just become aware of your incident reports.  I have submitted it now for two reasons, which will be explained later.  I was travelling up a river in my private motor cruiser when I experienced a lot of vibration on one engine.  Subsequently a diver removed a large quantity of thin orange coloured nylon strands and a smaller quantity of green nylon (?) cord; about 3/8″ diameter.  Initially I thought this might have been the remains of a commercial fender, but on visiting a fishing port recently I saw a large trawl net hanging up.  Along the bottom of the net was a section of the same materials mentioned above.  A local fisherman stated that this is to prevent the nets wearing and that when it is no longer serviceable it is cut off and discarded!

I recently encountered a yacht that had experienced the same problem and suspected that it had picked up the same type of material.  If it is confirmed that fishermen are discarding this material in the sea, it is time the practice is stopped!




CHIRP has received a number of reports concerning encounters with fishing gear and other flotsam and jetsam; some with serious, although thankfully not fatal, consequences.  The important thing to establish is to what extent losses of fishing gear, etc, into the sea are preventable.

The fishing industry certainly has not been complacent about the hazards of waste at sea and CHIRP commends the efforts of the “Fishing for Litter” initiative launched last June in Shetland and believes the marine community in general should assist by disposing of waste in accordance with regulations.  Further information on the initiative is available at www.savethenorthsea.com.

The following statement has been made by Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the Marine Accident Investigation Branch, the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations and the Royal Yachting Association:

Concerns have been raised with respect to the number of incidents involving the disabling of small craft through encounters with various kinds of synthetic waste, including fishing nets, ropes and fenders.  According to Regulation 3 (1) (a) of Annex V to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL):

“…the disposal into the sea of all plastics, including but not limited to synthetic ropes, synthetic fishing nets, plastic garbage bags and incinerator ashes from plastic products which may contain toxic or heavy metal residues, is prohibited.”

All mariners, including professional and amateur fishermen, yachtsmen, pleasure boaters and sportsmen are bound by the MARPOL Regulations and should act responsibly at all times.  Generally, all harbour authorities provide disposal facilities, but where these facilities are not available, badly positioned, and/or expensive, it results in waste being dumped illegally at sea.

Under the Port Waste Reception Facilities Regulations 2003/1809, all Harbour Authorities have a duty to ensure the provision of appropriate waste reception facilities for vessels calling at their ports/terminals.  The Regulations and subsequent Maritime and Coastguard Agency guidance require that ports/terminals plan for and provide facilities to receive garbage from vessels using the port/terminal.  Vessels should be charged a mandatory fee as part of these regulations and be provided with access to a list of contractors capable of disposing of hazardous materials, cargo associated wastes and noxious liquid substances.

Under these regulations, fishing vessels should arrange to land all ship generated waste, but are excluded from the requirements to pre-notify and pay a mandatory fee to the port, regardless of use of the facilities.  Therefore, the Fishing Industry should arrange the provision of waste reception facilities through agreements with the port to ensure the provision of disposal facilities for fishing gear.

All mariners are reminded to dispose of waste materials in accordance with the regulations.  In the event that disposal facilities are inadequate, mariners are advised to report to the Port/Terminal initially, and to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency if they are not satisfied with the response received.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency may be contacted via its web-site at: www.mcga.gov.uk or by telephone on 0870 6006505 (24 hrs).