Lisl Barry, fine artist based in Oudtshoorn, Klein Karoo, Western Cape - South Africa Lisl Barry, artist and author based in Oudtshoorn, Klein Karoo, Western Cape - South Africa
 Wilderness | Projects with heart : 

Ghost Fishing _ Strandloper Project


Strandloper Project Coastal Expedition

A research and clean up education project

Since moving to town I have been appalled at the plastic

packaging littering the streets, open veld and rivers.

Shortly after moving to the reserve in 1993, we and all

staff at Gamkaberg Nature Reserve began to

mindfully manage our waste, eventually extending the

practise to visitor facilities too.

The natural veld and housing areas on the reserve

are pristine and clean. The contrast when moving to

our closest town two years ago was stark. Access to

the internet also told a similar worldwide story of the

massive problem plastic waste is causing to our planet,

choking our waterways and oceans.

I had begun work on my Birds of A Feather themed work

(more of that under ‘My blog _ exhibition notes') when I

fell into conversation with Chris Leggatt who was about to

embark on a coastal research expedition with the Strandloper

Project. They were looking for funding for the expedition and

it seemed a worthy place to put my money (or rather a

painting) where my mouth is.

Photos taken by Strandloper Project volunteer members
in clean up dives and on their research expedition

The main aim of this non-profit environmental conservation

organisation is the care of the marine environment along the

Garden Route coastline, South Africa. Their work includes

researching the impact of recreational fishing debris and

plastic pollution on the marine environment and they organise

regular diving and beach clean up sessions in the area.

Photos taken by Strandloper Project volunteer members
on their coastal expedition

In May 2019 a team of 6 hikers from the Strandloper Project

hiked 210km between Blombos and Wilderness to survey

fishing debris and plastic pollution along the coastline

and the effects of ghost fishing.

Along the way, where coast passed towns, the group were

met by 3 different school groups who assisted them with

their plastic pollution surveys.

Photo credit_Mark Dixon, volunteer member of the
Strandloper Project

So what exactly is ghost fishing? When fishing tackle,

both recreational and commercial, gets lost, discarded

or entangled on a reef they threaten marinelife since the

line can entangle creatures and baited hooks continuing to

draw prey.

Fish, sharks, turtles, marine mammals and birds are victims

of this kind of marine litter and are maimed or die as a result.

With kind permission, the inspiration for the gannet below
the water was froma photo by Scottish marine biologist and
photographer Richard Shucksmith Photography click here.

When I finished painting Ghost Fishing (oil on

canvas, 940mm x 700mm) Chris remarked at how

symbolic the image was to their trip.

"With the amount of dead gannets we have found on our hike,

this poignant painting couldn't be more apt. Even the timing

of you notifying us of the completed work coincided with us

finding a fish hook in the stomach of a dissected bird."

The painting was purchased by Wilderness beachfront restaurant,

Salinas and can be viewed hanging in the restaurant.

All proceeds went to the Strandloper Project.

Photo credit_Chris Leggatt, volunteer member of the
Strandloper Project

To view more about the project: Strandloper facebook page click here

To view the article click here

Afterword: I have also got involved in monthly #trashtag clean

ups around our town with an Oudtshoorn based NGO, Trapsuitjies

(meaning 'chameleon' - and 'tread softly'). I am however fully aware

that clean ups, as neccessary as they are, are simply treating a

symptom but not altering the cause. More needs to be done to

address this issue by each and everyone of us.

Through our consumer power and being heard.