Greek and Dutch divers have removed two tonnes of discarded plastic fishing nets from the seabed in northern Greece, where they posed a risk to local marine life – including a rare colony of Mediterranean seahorse.
The nets from the coastal region of Stratoni will be recycled into yarn to create products including socks, sportswear, swimwear, and carpets, according to the Healthy Seas organisation, which is heading the initiative and works in the North, Adriatic and Mediterranean seas to clear waste.
Since 2013, Healthy Seas has removed 453 tonnes of abandoned nets from the seabed.
Because they are made of non-biodegradable plastic, they could remain in the sea for hundreds of years. Virtually invisible, they are referred to as ghost nets, and marine life can easily become entangled.
Each year some 640,000 tonnes of fishing gear is left in the sea, Healthy Seas said.
Greece is home to many endangered species, including sea turtles, seals and dolphins.
The unique colony of seahorse species in Stratoni is threatened by the loss of habitat due to pollution and overfishing.