A new ghost net reporting tool has been unveiled by the Limfjord Council in Denmark. The Limfjord is a long strait between the Cimbrian Peninsula and the island of Vendsyssel-Thy. The waterway has an area of 1,500 km². It crosses the whole of Jutland and connects the North Sea with the Kattegat. The shoreline is almost 1,000 kilometres long and has a drainage area of 7,500 km². It is one of Denmark’s most beautiful fjords.
The Limfjord Council works to reduce the environmental load on the fjord, benefiting all the communities who share access to this narrow channel of water. Six KIMO municipalities are also members of the Limfjordsrådet.
Karsten Filsø is chair of KIMO Denmark and also and a member of the political forum in the Limfjordsrådet. He gives us some background to the current project:
I visited Lillesand municipality in Norway in 2018. There is an excellent ghost gear removal project there called The Green Bay Project. When I returned to Denmark I wondered whether ghost gear could also be a problem in the Limfjord. I asked the question at the Limfjordsrådet but there was very little information about ghost nets in the Limfjord at that time. It wasn’t until the association “Levende Hav” began to remove nets that the scale of the problem started to become clear.
In the summer of 2020, volunteers from “Levende Hav” (Living Sea) removed 300 ghost nets in 14 days in a small part of Nissum Bredning in the western part of the Limfjord. It is difficult to know how many ghost nets are still at the bottom of the fjord since they are not usually visible from the surface. The Limfjord Council estimates that there are more than 1,000 ghost nets.
Now, together with the small company Appel Adventure, the Limfjord Council has begun to target ghost nets found in the fjord. After a public campaign to call for local anglers, divers, sailors and other water sport groups to help identify where ghost nets might be found, in just one week, 32 ghost nets have been identified and will be targeted to be removed as soon as funding is made available.
Lars Bach from the Limfjords Secretariat said:
It is great to have had such a great response in just our first weeks. We have already been contacted by the Ministry of Fisheries who have offered to help us with this problem right away. There is a huge amount of wildlife that depend on the Limfjord and by removing these nets, we can protect these vital habitats. On the short term it is really positive with a big clean-up effort, but it is also important with more long-term measures to ensure sustainable management of the resources in the Limfjord. The Limfjord Secretariat is working on this and hopes to put it on the agenda as part of a larger Master Plan for the Limfjord.
The new online reporting tool is publicly accessible and can be used by anyone who wants to contribute to to a healthier Limfjord. Users of the fjord can now report the location of ghost nets they have encountered by simply filling in a few details on the webpage. In the first instance, the goal is to create a better overview of the extent of the problem. Next the project will work to salvage the registered ghost nets and remove them from the fjord so they no longer trap and kill marine life. Removing the ghost nets will also reduce the plastic pollution in the fjord.
Chairman of the Limfjord Council Jens Lauritzen says:
The new tool is easy to use, and we hope many fishermen, sailors, divers and other users of the fjord will help report when they find or lose fishing gear in the fjord. This is how we can get a better overview of the problem and locate hotspots. It gives us better exposures to get the clean-up going.
To view a live interactive map of the ghost nets reported thus far please visit the project page.