Seaford fishing line recycling / swimmers project a huge success!

28 March 2021  |  by Neal Richardson

Locally it started with a discarded fishing hook through a swimmer’s toe… and grew into a joint project involving STC, LDC (Coastal Management), Environment Agency, Newhaven Port, and different groups of beach users – anglers, swimmers, dog-walkers, concessionaires, local businesses etc.
Already coming up with innovative and cost-effective solutions, it has the potential to change the world!

Neal, fishing line recycling point

The small working group comprises Tony Jackson (STC), angler Steven Tapp (LISA, ANLRS) and daily swimmer Neal Richardson (Splash Point Music Ltd), initially brought together by Tim Bartlett (LDC).

Starting with a coffee chat in late 2019, the overall aims are:

a) to minimise beach pollution from fishing waste and recycle it
b) to encourage all beach users to adopt a mutual “care and share” respect in their activities.

The project has built and maintained momentum even through Lockdown, not least with the invention and installation of several dedicated fishing-line recycling “Pipe Bins” along Seaford’s seafront, extending to Newhaven. These bins – made from large-diameter drainpipes – have been hugely successful, with some 180kg of fishing equipment waste collected and recycled in the first 4 months since installation.

The remit is gradually expanding to work with the monthly Beach Cleans (Plastic Free Seaford), Seaford Beach Partnership (PR Sept 2020), SEA (Seaford Environmental Alliance), and now includes making a data study of the waste collected. The bins are emptied fortnightly by volunteers and the contents analysed, logged and sent off for recycling by a specialist facility. So far this has shown that 95% is from commercial fishing (from boats), with only 5% being from angling, although the latter’s detritus can be more hazardous to other beach users.

The good news of the success of the pipe bins is spreading – eg Leave No Trace and City Clean Brighton are installing bins there… and enquiries have been received from all round the UK.  Much credit for this coordination must go to Steven Tapp, whose tireless voluntary work in informing and publicising the project thru LISA and ANLRS has been invaluable.  There is even now interest internationally!

The specialist recycling plant has been an inadvertent potential gold mine: The plan is to store the waste locally then transport it in bulk (to cut down recycling miles)… but it transpires that the plant can recycle any form of plastic mixed-up together – by shredding and reforming into building panels, benches or similar. This could have very positive and far-reaching implications for general plastic recycling (currently selective by type) all over the UK.

We are very proud of the story so far!

An LDC Press Release (Sept 2020) about several beach improvements, included the following:

As well as the district council, the Seaford Beach Partnership has included Seaford Town Council, The Environment Agency, Seaford Lifeguards, Newhaven Port and Properties, Neal Richardson, a local entrepreneur and swimmer who is part of Impact Seaford and Steve Tapp  a local angler, co-founder ofLISA, Local Independent Sea Anglers and the Anglers National Line Recycling Scheme.

Leader of Lewes District Council, Councillor James MacCleary, said: “We would like to thank all of the partners involved in these projects, which have been brilliant examples of multiple agencies working together with the community to create increased resilience and a greater shared understanding of each other, the way we work and priorities.”

Update from Steve Tapp:

As promised a breakdown of the contents of the Pipe Bins at Seaford this week. By the time I had stripped out the weed and other elements, a beer bottle, half a box of rancid squid, a bit of plastic fence and some plastic items and just over 2 kilos of steel hawser attached to some heavy rope left at one of the sites, I was left with what you see in the picture. In terms of percentages , if you take out the lead weights, the percentage of commercial related items to recreational angling items was 95% to 5%.

On the commercial side we had net pieces, mono net fragments, some heavy- duty rope and a notable amount (20 plus) short ‘offcuts’ or tag ends of net, rope or industrial twine. The size of them strongly suggests that human hands were involved. These were not a result of wave action for example and have been common in all beach cleans I have been involved with. How they got into the sea is a very good question to ask. Is there a case to address a current behavioural or work place practice to prevent this.

Angling related items, in fairness, posed the greater threat. In terms of line, approx 1,500 m, 51 hooks of which 30 still posed a potential threat to wildlife, pets or beach users, particularly the 10 that still had bait on. There was one squid jig and 137 tackle items, predominantly plastic beads.

All that you see, except the steel hawser which I will put in the metal bin at the tip, will go back for processing in due course.

A commercial fisherman who is a LISA member suggests the large net waste on the beach was part of a trawl net, probably a Beam Trawl.

The value of these pipe bins is undeniable and full credit to the general public for embracing the opportunity to make our beaches cleaner and safer for all.

Eastbourne now has 4 bins, Wealden has 3 and Brighton has 9 in total now. This number has trebled since the Seaford and Newhaven bins went in!

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