Dead turtle found entangled in fishing nets prompts call for urgent action

Nature Trust calls on public and fishers to reduce marine litter, plastics at sea, and to recover lost fishing gear

 The Loggerhead Turtle was found entangled in marine debris consisting mainly of abandoned fishing nets
The Loggerhead Turtle was found entangled in marine debris consisting mainly of abandoned fishing nets

Nature Trust is appealing to the public to contribute towards reducing marine litter and plastic at sea after a dead turtle was reported to NT’s Wildlife Rescue Team in the last weekend.

The dead juvenile loggerhead turtle had just died after being found entangled in marine debris covering it from head to back. Most of the debris consisted in abandoned fishing nets.

“This is not a one-off case as, during 2020, more turtles were brought ashore entangled in such marine debris. One turtle, Maggie - now at our rehab centre - lost all three flippers,” a Nature Trust said spokesperson said.

Furthermore, one of the turtles rescued during December 2020 was recently found to have had in its stomach over 28 grams of plastics. “Had these not come out, the turtle could have suffered complications and even possible death.”

Each year the number of plastic debris and marine debris keeps increasing even in Maltese waters. Nature Trust has reiterated its appeal to  the public to dispose of plastic waste in the appropriate way and not dump it around, as it will tend to end up in the sea.

28 grams of plastic were found in the stomach of a turtle rescued last December
28 grams of plastic were found in the stomach of a turtle rescued last December

“People should immediately reduce the use of single-use plastics, even those that are still in the market. The Maltese government has halted the import of single-use plastics as of 1 January 2021.  Although this is a step in the right direction and to be commended, this alone will not solve the issue of the marine plastic debris which is every year ending up in the stomach of thousands of marine animals, either killing them outright or causing them to wither away in extreme suffering.

“In the case of fish that people consume, micro-plastics are now ending up in our plates and system too. Humans are now poisoning themselves.”

The ENGO also called on fishermen to try and recover lost fishing gear, and to avoid using nylon nets that are the cause of death of so many turtles in the Mediterranean.

It also called upon the Prime Minister to make an effort to promote more sustainable methods of fishing, to help save hundreds of marine animals that will otherwise lose their lives in our outwardly clean and healthy Maltese waters. “More action by the government is also called for to reduce marine debris.”

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