When news happens get involved. Send your pictures, views and video to us by text and email
Flock of birds die after being entangled in fishing nets off Portland
A FLOCK of seabirds died after becoming entangled in fishing nets off Portland.
Martin Cade, warden of the Portland Bird Observatory, contacted the RSPCA after receiving several calls from walkers who had seen guillemots and razorbills struggling to break free from a nylon net.
The incident took place in Freshwater Bay, 50-yards off the Southwell coast path on Friday morning.
Some of the birds sadly drowned while caught in the net, and wild weather and rough seas prevented rescuers from sailing out to release the others.
By the next morning the net and the seabirds had disappeared.
Mr Cade said it is unknown who the net belongs to or where it came from.
He is urging local fisherman to be more careful with fishing nets.
“It was a really awful and heartbreaking sight.
“Some of the birds had drowned but others were making distress sounds and trying to get out.”
He added: “We’ve alerted the authorities to incidents like this in the past and although it appears fishermen are advised to set nets late in the day, collect them soon after dawn and place distraction markers on them, this is widely ignored.”
Fisherman Stuart Skinley was the first to report the incident after he had been walking his dog.
He said: “I heard the shrieking sounds so I looked out to sea and saw seabirds trapped in a net.
“Some of them were desperately trying to get out.
“It is absolutely disgusting that those nets were even there at this time of year and in this weather.”
He added: “There is no way anyone could have gone out in a boat in those conditions to save them.
“I gave up fishing with nets years ago as it is a danger to seabirds.”
Around 300 people viewed a video of the struggling seabirds posted online by Mr Cade and the dedicated warden also kept locals up-to-date with the rescue attempt on Twitter.
He posted: “Sadly, no progress with freeing the trapped auks – too far from shore and RSPCA unable to find a boat to help.”
Both guillemots and razorbills, often referred to as ‘the penguins of the northern hemisphere’, belong to the auk family and nest on Portland.
‘Unfortunate Side To Fishing’
THE secretary of Weymouth and Portland Fisherman and Licensed Boatman Association Andy Alcock said seabirds are often discovered trapped in fishing nets.
“It is an unfortunate side of fishing but it is just one of those things.
“It is a shame that this happened so close to the coast to the distress of those people who witnessed it.
“These seabirds dive and swim and unfortunately they are often trapped in fishing nets.”
Mr Alcock added: “As long as the fisherman stays within the boundaries and regulations laid out by the council they are doing nothing wrong.
“Although it is very careless for a net to even be out there in this weather, wherever it is from.”