Dredging in Pärnu Bay at the weekend cleared large volumes of old fishing nets and other related garbage, though the situation turned out to be better than expected, ETV current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Sunday night.
Local fishermen joined the Environmental Inspectorate and the Maritime Institute of the University of Tartu in the project, AK reported.
Nets are not simply dumped at sea, fisherman Raio Piiroja told AK, but often come adrift and sink, either during storms or ice movement in winter.
The stray netting and other fishing paraphernalia can create a hazard on the sea bottom, but cleaning efforts can often yield unexpected finds of their own, such as an old anchor, which had snagged over 50 kg of netting
A larger vessel acted as command post, remaining in constant contact with the dredgers, with the first finds made within hours.
Tiia Möller, a researcher in marine biology at the University of Tartu's Marine Institute, has been studying waste pollution in the Baltic Sea for many years, and said that the survey did not suggest that fishing nets were being deliberately discarded. At the same time, they still presented a potential hazard to marine life.
Within six hours, it became clear that around 10 percent of the seabed in the section of Pärnu Bay studied was polluted with fishing nets – a relatively small haul, which Toomas Õmblus, head of the Environmental Inspectorate's Pärnu County office said means conditions there are better than in Lake Peipus (Peipsi järv), a popular fishing spot which straddles much of the Estonian-Russian border.
Further dredging works are due in the bay in spring.
Editor: Andrew Whyte