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Giant ghost net retrieved from popular dive site

Last weekend, 8-9 August, 10 volunteer divers working under the auspices of Ghost Fishing UK removed an abandoned 200 metre fishing net that was lying in the area of the popular Hand Deeps dive site off the coast of Plymouth. The object posed a serious threat not only to divers visiting the site, but more
Published: August 17, 2020 - 09:00
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 20:47
Giant ghost net retrieved from popular dive site

Last weekend, 8-9 August, 10 volunteer divers working under the auspices of Ghost Fishing UK removed an abandoned 200 metre fishing net that was lying in the area of the popular Hand Deeps dive site off the coast of Plymouth. The object posed a serious threat not only to divers visiting the site, but more importantly to local wildlife for whom ghost nets are simply lethal.

After a forced hiatus due to the Covid-19 virus pandemic, the Ghost Fishing UK dive team returned to conducting in-water operations and immediately responded to reports from Plymouth, from where the local diving community had reported the threat of a large, as it eventually turned out to measure 200 metres, broken fishing net.

Reconnaissance ghost net retrieval Plymouth Ghost Fishing UK/Christine Grosart divers24.co.uk
The divers first carried out a quick reconnaissance photo Ghost Fishing UK/Christine Grosart

It was truly shocking to see first-hand the damage such nets do to local wildlife. After the dive, I knew I had to let someone know about the problem so that it could be addressed as soon as possible,” said Christine Ingram of Plymouth Sound SAC, who was the first to encounter the dangerous object

Once on site, the Ghost Fishing UK dive team carried out a reconnaissance dive to determine the size of the net, the level of difficulty of the operation and prepare a plan of action to deal with the danger and get the net out of the water as quickly as possible, but also to free and save the huge number of sea creatures that were already trapped in the deadly trap.

Lobster entangled in Hand Deeps Plymouth divers24.pl
A beautiful lobster trapped in a net photo Ghost Fishing UK/Christine Grosart

It was decided that the most effective and fastest way to rescue the animals would be to get the entire net aboard a boat and then disentangle and cut out the trapped inhabitants of the local waters. A total of 115 crabs, lobsters, black cod and other creatures were released back into the sea.

This net is huge, but despite its large size it is sometimes very difficult to know exactly where the ghost net is. Fortunately in this case we had excellent information from several reports and by having good coordinates we were able to find it in just 8 minutes,” explained Christine Grosart from Ghost Fishing UK

Hand Deeps is one of the most biologically diverse sites in the local waters, and is regularly visited by many divers who enjoy interacting with marine wildlife. Ghost nets, such as the one recovered over the weekend, pose a threat to an almost complete cross-section of marine life. Their rapid and effective removal is vital if the negative impact on local ecosystems is to be minimised.

Cutting entangled animals out of the net divers24.co.uk
Divers taming entangled animals photo Ghost Fishing UK

Founded in 2015, Ghost Fishing UK now has 70 active volunteers in its ranks and encourages divers and fishermen in the British Isles to send in information about ghost nets lying in UK waters. The organisation works closely with SeaLife Trust, Seasearch and the Cornish Plastic Pollution Coalition.

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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