Every year staff from fishing gear manufacturer Hampiðjan and their families join in a beach clean-up session, and this year’s effort highlighted some of the changes in the way fishing gears are discarded or lost.
The Hampiðjan team and volunteers from Seeds, along with Tómas Knútsson and his Blue Army this year chose the remote bay of Krossavík at the western point of the Reykjanes peninsula.
The stony 600 metre shoreline at Krossavík lies between rock outcrops at each end, and a high rock dune protects the flat land on the shoreward side. According to Hampiðjan’s volunteers, this particular beach had clearly never been cleaned up before, and was scattered with both driftwood, which in the past would have been collected for us, and other debris.
The driftwood was left for nature to deal with, but the volunteers set to work to collect the other rubbish for disposal.
‘We’re pretty familiar with the history of fishing gear in Iceland, recognise anything related to fishing gear and where it comes from, and it’s fascinating to see what’s there on the beach,’ one of the team commented.
‘It was a surprise how little modern fishing gear waste there was. The only things that looked recent was netting from a trawl codend, inflated netting buoys and trawl floats. This demonstrates how careful fishermen are today about what goes into the water. There were quite a few lengths of old rope, and it was especially interesting to see how many little cork and plastic floats there were of the type known as doughnuts, and which were in widespread use on herring drift nets three or four decades ago.’
There were also float rings that were used with gill nets for cod up to the beginning of the 1980s, and these began to be replaced with float rope in the mid-1970s, and had been finally taken off the market around 1985. Apart from the fishing gear waste, bottles of all kinds, broken boxes, shoes and other detritus were removed from the beach.
‘The volunteers spent some hours completely clearing the beach at Krossavík, filling all of the trailers, and a couple of extra trips were needed to take all of the plastic waste away for disposal,’ one of the Hampiðjan team said. A total of between 1500 and 2000kg of mainly plastic waste was collected during the day.