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Fears for seals as 420 square metres of netting washes up on beach

PUBLISHED: 11:49 20 May 2020 | UPDATED: 12:00 20 May 2020

One of three 10m by 14m fishing nets which washed up on Waxham beach. Picture: David Vyse

One of three 10m by 14m fishing nets which washed up on Waxham beach. Picture: David Vyse

Archant

Volunteers have removed roughly 420 square metres of netting from Waxham Beach, after three large nets washed up on the shoreline.

A seal with netting around its net. Seals' curious nature often leads them to investigate items they come across in the water, sometimes with devastating consequences. Picture: Friends of Horsey SealsA seal with netting around its net. Seals' curious nature often leads them to investigate items they come across in the water, sometimes with devastating consequences. Picture: Friends of Horsey Seals

Discarded fishing nets can have devastating consequences for wildlife, especially seals, whose curious nature leads them to investigate nets before becoming tangled up in and strangled by them.

Volunteers from Friends of Horsey Seals (FOHS) and Marine and Wildlife Rescue were called to Waxham on Tuesday afternoon, after a member of the public reported seeing three large fishing nets washed up on the beach.

When volunteers arrived they found three 10m by 14m industrial fishing nets. It took a team of five to drag the heavy netting off the beach and out of harm’s way.

David Vyse, a committee member of FOHS and one of those to help remove the netting from the beach, said: “We were absolutely flabbergasted by the amount of netting that was washed up on the beach.

“It was really, really heavy, it took five of us to get it off the beach.

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“North Norfolk District Council is going to [dispose] of the netting but we had to remove it because it would cause incredible damage to the seals.”

Mr Vyse, 72, who has been a volunteer with FOHS for nine years, said the nets were industrial trawler nets intertwined with nylon, which was the type of netting volunteers often found around seals’ necks.

He said: “We’ve had about 16 seals with netting around their necks this year.

“We get quite a bit of netting on the beach but we’re getting more seals on the beach with netting around their necks.”

Mr Vyse said seals were able to survive with netting around their necks, but it often caused scarring, deep cuts and could be lethal.

“We’ve had about 16 nets this year which is an all time record, [the number of nets on the beach] is increasing, it’s getting far worse than it was 10 years ago but we don’t know why,” he said.

Mr Vyse asked anyone who sees netting washed up on Norfolk’s Beaches to contact the local authority, FOHS or Marine and Wildlife Rescue and remove it if possible.


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