Divers carrying out an underwater clean-up at Veċċja Point in St Paul’s Bay on Monday pulled up a massive tangled fishing line that had been discarded and left at the bottom of the sea.

Environmentalist and scuba diver Raniero Borg led a team of divers, with the help of volunteers from GO, who spent much of the morning pulling up litter from the bottom of the sea.

With the help of a dinghy, the divers scoured the bay in the popular mooring area, picking up litter that had found its way to the seafloor.

As well as the tangled fishing line, volunteers pulled up heavy ropes, car batteries, tyres, glass bottles, as well as two large yellow marker buoys.

As the morning progressed, Times of Malta observed volunteers do their utmost to save the fauna that had made its home in the discarded litter, including sea urchins, crabs, a sea sponge and even a small octopus that had been hiding in the centre of a discarded tyre.

“I really wanted to bring that fishing line up today because I’d noticed it before and it really bothers me,” Borg said.

“This is clearly a result of commercial activity, not some hobbyists who use a huge line like that,” he continued.

“What makes me angry is that last year I pulled up a line just like that one and still we continue to find things like this.”

Discarded fishing lines pose a hazard to marine life as either ingesting or getting tangled in the line could prove fatal to the animals that encounter it. Last year, four protected shearwaters died in Comino after becoming entangled in a discarded fishing line, with another 18 birds spared the same fate after they were found by hunters, who released them. A dead turtle that washed up in Balluta last year was also found to have died because it ingested a discarded fishing line.

“Typically when we pull this stuff up we throw it in a skip and call it a day, but this time, we want people to really see the amount of things we pull up in a relatively short period of time,” Borg said.

“We are seeing some improvement. In five years of doing clean-ups, I’ve pulled up 3,000 tyres myself, but I have to say the bays are getting cleaner.”

The clean-up activity was organised with the GO Cares Committee and the GO Academy, an employee-led initiative at the company that focuses on raising awareness about the climate crisis and funding initiatives that help people, animals and the environment.

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