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The Leaf: Issue 4 August 2021 - Supporting Local Environmental Heroes: An Update From Fathoms Free

To us, sustainability doesn’t just mean reducing our carbon emissions. We know true sustainability is about doing what we can to ensure a better future for communities and their environments. As part of that goal, we’re taking steps to support local initiatives that tackle the human damage done to biodiversity.

Read more topics at Wiser about Sustainability


What is Fathoms Free?

Fathoms Free is a recognised charitable run by a team of dedicated volunteer conservationists, who give up their time to be on-call and respond to reports of ghost fishing gear, with the team’s trained divers often working in difficult conditions to remove it from Devon and Cornwall’s coasts. Fathoms Free is chaired by our very own John Kent, Senior Design Engineer at Drayton and keen diver.

Earlier this year, Drayton made a donation to Fathoms Free as part of our annual charity support, and we’re pleased to be able to support this local conservation group in their mission. The team have been very busy so far this year, so we’d love to give you an update on their recent work.

So far, the Fathoms Free team has removed around a ton of ghost fishing gear so far in 2021!

This year, volunteer divers of Fathoms Free have removed ghost fishing gear from many locations across the UK, from Newquay to Falmouth, from beaches to shipwrecks.


What is Ghost Fishing Gear?

Ghost fishing gear is equipment like nets, lines and lobster pots that are lost at sea, either by accident or even intentional abandonment by vessels as a result of damage or snagging on rocks or wrecks. It’s thought around 140,000 tons of ghost fishing gear enters the oceans every year.

Ghost gear entangles wildlife like crabs, fish, sharks, birds, seals, even whales and dolphins. Sadly many die once trapped, attracting more marine animals which then also become trapped, and the deadly cycle goes on and on.

Unlike pre-1950s nets made of natural fibres, modern versions are made of plastic and contribute to ocean plastic pollution, releasing toxins and microplastics which enter the food chain. As it can’t degrade naturally, ghost gear will damage ecosystems for potentially hundreds of years.

John Kent

John Kent, Senior Design Engineer at Drayton, chairs Fathoms Free and, when not working on our product design developments, is a committed activist and diver, responding to reports of ghost gear and coordinating the team to reduce its harmful effects in the waters around Devon and Cornwall.

The work doesn’t stop after the ghost gear is removed; once on dry land the team of volunteers carefully extracts all materials that can be recycled or otherwise reused, and even work with their partners to produce sit-on kayaks made from 100% recycled ocean plastic.

How Can You Support Fathoms Free?

There are lots of ways to get involved and support Fathoms Free:

  • Make a donation via the Fathoms Free website – removing ghost fishing gear is expensive work, every little bit helps.
  • Buy from their online shop – with a great selection of unique gifts
  • Report ghost fishing gear – spotted abandoned fishing gear on the beach or in the sea? Report it to the team via the website.
  • Become a volunteer – whether you’re a diver or not, there are lots of ways to lend a hand.


Fathoms Free is a registered charity - number 1192613


Organic September – Sep 1st-30th – Soil Association

This campaign by the Soil Association aims to raise awareness of organic products, and the brands, producers and farmers who bring them to us in the UK. Trying switching to at least one organic products this month, as more organic products sold means fewer pesticides and more animals raised under higher welfare standards. Find out more about Organic September.


International Day for Preservation of the Ozone Layer – Sep 16th – UN

Since 1994 the UN has commemorated the date in 1987 on which nations signed the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. These include those found in many industrial and consumer products, such as aerosols, fridges, freezers, paint-strippers, degreasers and glues, so this month why not ensure you know how to dispose of these items correctly to reduce damage, or where possible find alternative products with lower levels of these substances. Find out more about this awareness day on the website.


Great British Beach Clean – Sep 17th-26th – MCS UK

Fish and Chips, colourful towns, ice cream… What could be better than the Great British seaside? The Great British Beach Clean is a week-long citizen science event, where hundreds of beach cleans take place up and down the UK, where litter data is collected to help drive change. Organise your own beach clean or sign up for one of the arranged events on the website. Find out more about the Great British Beach Clean on the website.


Read more topics at Wiser about Sustainability and why not check out our eco-friendly tips for the Autumn.