BRIGHTON has become the first coastal city in the country to take action against “one of the biggest threats” to marine life.

Recycling points for fishing lines and nets have been installed on the seafront in a bid to stop the “ghost gear” being washed back into the sea, where it can ensnare and kill all kinds of sea creatures, from fish and crustaceans to seabirds and larger mammals such as dolphins and whales.

Environmental campaign group Leave No Trace Brighton decided to take action to combat the problem after fishing lines and nets were found to be the most common items washing up on Brighton beach by its volunteers.

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For the past seven months the community group has been encouraging individual beach cleaners to collect three pieces of rubbish every time they visit the seafront and to post a photo on Instagram with the #leavenotracebrighton hashtag.

The Argus:

Leave No Trace Brighton founder Coral Evans said: “Discarded industrial fishing line and nets are one of the biggest threats to the marine environment.

“This ‘ghost gear’ is responsible for the entanglement death of thousands of sea animals every year.

“Not only that, but when left in the ocean, fishing lines and nets, which are predominantly made from nylon, polyester, polypropylene and polyethylene, slowly break down or degrades over time, shedding smaller and smaller pieces of plastic that are commonly mistaken for food by small fish and sea animals, including the ones that end up on our plates.”

Coral added that fishing lines and nets can take up to 600 years to break down.

The Argus:

To tackle the problem, Leave No Trace Brighton has teamed up with the Anglers National Line Recycling Scheme (ANLRS), the first line recycling project in the UK, launched by anglers in Sussex.

Coral said: “We knew the ANLRS were successfully collecting and recycling anglers’ fishing line in deposit tubes at popular fishing spots throughout Sussex, so we reached out to see if their scheme could be adapted to collect fishing net in addition to the line, and made available to beach cleaners on Brighton Seafront.

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“Once this was established we contacted Brighton & Hove Council’s CityClean, who were fully supportive of the idea, and instrumental with the installation of the recycling collection tubes on the seafront.”

The three new recycling points are at the Albion Groyne, the Norfolk Groyne and on the beach opposite Lawns Cafe.

Once collected, the lines and nets are sent to Leeds-based recycling company ReWorked, where they are manufactured and recycled for a second life as multi-purpose high impact boards.

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The recycled plastic can also be redesigned into items such as sunglasses, skateboards and even swimwear.

Steve Tapp, co-founder of the ANLRS, said he is delighted Brighton and Hove City Council has adopted the scheme.

He said: “We’re sure others around the UK will follow their lead. Leave No Trace Brighton are a fine example of the many voluntary groups around our shores who share with us a passion to improve our environment. This is a major step towards developing greater national recognition and support for the angler-run scheme.”

Cllr Amy Heley said: “As a coastal city, tackling ocean pollution must be a priority and integral to our commitment to being a carbon neutral city by 2030, and community projects like this are really making a difference. Huge thanks to all the volunteers making it happen.”