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Fears coastal netting could become marine litter and harm seals

PUBLISHED: 17:34 18 December 2018

Netting at Hemsby is drawing concerns Picture: Daniel Goldsmith

Netting at Hemsby is drawing concerns Picture: Daniel Goldsmith

Daniel Goldsmith

Plastic netting aimed at protecting the coast is drawing concerns it could become a hazard for wildlife.

Green netting at Hemsby is drawing concerns Picture: Daniel GoldsmithGreen netting at Hemsby is drawing concerns Picture: Daniel Goldsmith

The green mesh was put in by landowner Geoffrey Watling (Norwich) Ltd to deter walkers and “catch” sand.

Spokesman John Weston said it was part of the planned maintenance and preservation strategy at the exposed stretch where earlier this year a string of cliff-hanging homes were demolished.

His comments came after Daniel Goldsmith of the Marine and Wildlife Rescue Centre based at Ridlington was alerted to the potential threat, particularly to seals.

Mr Goldsmith said he was worried the curious, playful animals could become entangled in the material which could be lethal.

“This sort of stuff is prime material. They are so inquisitive and will play around with anything,” he said.

“Anything that ends up in the sea ends up being a hazard.

“It is such a difficult predicament if you have land that is eroding, but the fact is the sea is so strong it will take anything.”

At least six seals were currently out at sea waiting to be caught and freed from some sort of entanglement with netting or plastic he said, questioning the wisdom of using the material so close to the shore and the breeding seal colony.

Mr Weston, said he was not aware that any had reached the sea. “We are sensitive to stuff getting on to the beach,” he added.

He said the mesh had been used for some time at various locations.

The idea was that it would hold sand and help the beach to accrete. Over time the mesh became totally embedded but would then be exposed with the ebb of flow of tides and erosion.

He added it was held in place by cable ties and posts and that if any ever did work free there was a swift response to retrieve it.

In October it was reported that more seals than ever were struggling with plastic pollution.

The RSPCA said the colony at Horsey was badly affected with a clutch of seals suffering and being monitored by a volunteer patrol group.

Despairing officers were powerless while the breeding season was in full swing and would have to wait until the affected seals became weak enough to catch, the charity said.

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