Conservation groups will set out to clear away deadly fishing litter from the shore and sea near Penzance on Saturday.

Cornish marine conservation volunteers Fathoms Free will be diving with global animal welfare charity World Animal Protection from Penzance harbour, following recent reports of both seals and whales caught in ghost gear on the Cornish coast.

The sea dive is the first official dive in a series of 12, from a new rib World Animal Protection have given Fathoms Free -a group which dedicates its time to clearing Cornwall’s coast and waters of lost or abandoned fishing litter.

Research commissioned by the charity revealed 640,000 tonnes of lost or discarded fishing gear, or ghost gear, pollutes our oceans every year, which can have serious implications for the welfare of marine animals, fisher safety, livelihoods and biodiversity. Fathoms Free alone has recovered some 8.5 tonnes of litter over two years.

The new boat is crucial for surveying and cleaning up debris hotspots around Cornwall, and is part of a collaborative project with Fathoms Free, World Animal Protection and several local partners.

Researchers in Cornwall, commissioned by World Animal Protection, have reported tonnes of fishing gear, lost or abandoned in Cornish waters and coast last year. The Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust discovered 50 tonnes over a year and rescued trapped seals, sea birds and other marine wildlife.

On Saturday, the Fathoms Free crew head to St Michael’s Mount with a support boat alongside to recover a large fishing net on the ocean floor.

Fathoms Free reuse and recycle the litter: some has been transformed into works of art such as their mascot, Casper the Cormorant, and some will be recycled to return to the sea as ocean kayaks, bodyboards and other exciting products, thus creating a circular economy and aiding further conservation efforts in the area.

Rob Thompson, the group's founder, said: “The inspiration behind Fathoms Free comes from witnessing community led change from others who sacrifice their time and energy to preserve our ecosystem. Through the self-perpetuation cycle of inspiring one another to drive change, we believe that collaboratively we will succeed in safeguarding the future of our seas. The time for waiting for change is over; it is time to be the change.”

The day will start at 9am with a Beach clean led by Zillah, Anita, Tristan and Abbie of Friends of the Earth, and at 12.30pm the Fathoms Free rib will leave Penzance Harbour to St Michael’s Mount to recover the fishing net.