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Gillying goes green over fears plastic crabbing lines are damaging Wells Harbour

PUBLISHED: 08:26 23 March 2016 | UPDATED: 08:27 23 March 2016

Gillying for crabs at Wells quayside. Picture: Colin Finch

Gillying for crabs at Wells quayside. Picture: Colin Finch

It's as much a part of the summer scene around the picturesque harbour as chips and sea gulls.

Crab lines and buckets retrieved from Wells Harbour.Crab lines and buckets retrieved from Wells Harbour.

Now officials at the Port of Wells are promoting a greener form of gillying, because of fears over its impact on the marine environment.

Instead of buying plastic lines and buckets to catch crabs, they hope visitors will use eco-friendly wooden tackles, with a steel bucket to keep their catch.

An estimated 30,000 plastic lines and buckets are sold in the town each summer accordign to an informal survey.

Many end up in the harbour, where the material breaks down and pollutes the sea, or in landfill when they are discarded at the end of the holidays.

Environmentally-friendly crab lines which can now  be hired.Environmentally-friendly crab lines which can now be hired.

Marine life can mistake it for food and strangle on the ingested plastic, or become entangled in the strong nylon lines, which can also foul boats’ propellors.

Harbourmaster Robert Smith said: “We’re not banning gillying in any way shape or form, we’re not banning the use of plastic, we’re offering an environmental alternative.”

A gilly hut on the quay, which will educate visitors to the potential problems, has received funding from the Sheringham Shoal Community Fund. It will open over the easter holidays.

Wooden reels and steel buckets will be available to hire for £6 a day from the Port of Wells, which includes a £5 deposit when the gear is returned. Mr Smith said the hut would also sell crabbing bait.

“We don’t mind if we lose money,” he added. “It’s not about making money it’s about protecting the environment.”

Lines will also be limited to enough to reach the sea bed from the harbourside. Officials believe the combined length of crab lines sold at Wells in the average summer would stretch to Iceland if they were joined end to end.

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