Abandoned hooks pose a threat to beachgoers

I live by the shore in Selsey, above the sloping shingle beach, with regularly spaced groynes. The beach is used by holidaymakers, bathers and playing children all year round.

It is also used by anglers, frequently at night. Generally, although not always, these users remove any litter when they go, although occasionally we find empty drink and bait containers in the mornings.

There is however one form of very dangerous refuse: tangles of fishing line, often with weights and with one or several fish hooks. These tangles are usually found at low tide entwined tightly with the seaweed growing on the groynes. Probably the tackle gets entangled with this weed, and cannot be pulled off with the rod and line, and so the line either breaks or is cut off and abandoned. This is not rare – when I find one I cut it free and throw it away – sometimes as many as one or two per month.

They are a severe danger at low tide to children who love to explore the weed and the pools below it, and are of course attracted by the tangled weights and lines.

I am writing because on Sunday, August 18, a young boy who was staying next door to us was on the beach and saw and took hold of one of these tangles. A hook went into the joint of a finger of his right hand, and he was in great pain – his family heard the screams, and brought him up to the house, but were unable to remove or even touch the hook as the pain was too severe. They took him to the A&E department of St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester, where it could not be removed until Monday morning when it needed an X-ray to see just where the hook lay, and then under general anaesthetic to cut out the hook, clean away adjacent sand and then stitch up the wound.

He was kept in hospital for follow-up observation, but I think and hope he is at home now. How severely, and for how long, he may be handicapped by scar tissue or other problems remains to be seen.

I hope your readers can point out this danger to anyone they know who fishes in Selsey or anywhere else in this region, and ask them never to abandon hooks in this way.

John D Harper

East Beach Road

Selsey