Back to the beach last week with my loyal gang of volunteers. This time we were cleaning one of our most protected pieces of coastline under the watchful eye of Reculver Towers on the North Kent coast.
After another blustery hike along the shingle collecting the normal hoard of drink cans, bottle tops and strange plastic cockle pots which have been washed up on the shoreline we set ourselves the task of retrieving a huge trawler net which had been torn loose from one of the factory fishing vessels which line the coast and had become firmly wedged in the shingle. The guys in the group quite liked the idea of this challenge but no amount of grunting and tugging could pull the thing loose so we tied together every bit of rope and haulage strap we could find and attached the lot to our mini bus.
At the wheel of the mini bus I inched forward, feeling the ropes strain and the shingly weight of the net slowly drag itself a few inches up the beach before….ping, the ropes would snap. Time and again, we shortened the ropes, created more and more elaborate knots and reattached the whole lot to the net.
Hilary, one of my feisty women who had declared it was too cold to leave the mini bus was soon to be found on top of the net giving instructions and wielding a knife to cut bits free.
“I thought you didn’t want to get involved,” I said.
“But now it’s a project,” she said
and so it was, a project to get this huge destructive bit of debris off our beach before it washed back out to sea in a storm and floated around ensnaring all manor of sea creatures before eventually breaking into fragments and drifting away to be swallowed by turtles and dolphins and seabirds and join the swirling vortex of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Eventually the net topped the sea wall and like a giant, many tentacle squid we dragged our prey triumphantly behind the vehicle to join the rest of the days rubbish.
Seeing this net up close and thinking of the damage it could cause to our marine wildlife I can’t help but think that the fishing industry should be made to foot the bill for the clean up and financially support those who take the time to do the cleaning.