As part of the Rerutn to Ithaca campaign in Greece, another big clean-up of the ghost nets that litter the waters of the Ionian Sea took place.
Working together, the organisations Ghost Diving i Healthy Seas conducted another clean-up of the ghost nets around Ithaca Island. The Return to Ithaca campaign is a continuation of the Journey to Ithaca initiative launched in 2021. Although divers excavated a mass of old fishing gear a year ago, they also had their hands full this year.
Last year, as much as 76 tonnes of marine waste was removed from the sea and beaches in just eight days. Most of it came from an abandoned fish farm that had been abandoned 10 years earlier. The old fishing equipment not only littered the sea, but also wreaked havoc on the local sea creature population.
The organisers of the whole operation found out that the same aquaculture operated another site in another bay of Ithaca Island. As in the first case, a mass of nets, rings, floats and various fishing equipment was simply abandoned at sea.
Studies on ghost nets estimate that 640 000 tonnes of fishing gear are abandoned in seas and oceans every year. The stripped nets are often enormous and constitute a deadly trap for all life. Getting caught in such a net is practically equivalent to dying in terrible agony. And it is extremely easy to get caught in such a net, as they are practically invisible.
The main difference in the ghost net removal project is that the owner of the abandoned fishing gear we have discovered and removed has a name. We have confronted this ecological crime two years in a row, worked to bring it back, and to understand who is responsible and can do something about it. The issue is very complicated. Our goal in this project is to raise awareness about ‘ghost farms’ and put an end to them. – said Veronika Mikos, director of Healthy Seas.
With the support of Hyundai Healthy Seas and Ghost Diving, together with many partners, they organised a clean-up project. From March to June they worked with the help of local fishermen and volunteer divers, focusing on 14 different sites on the island. In total, the volunteers removed 23.5 tonnes of waste, of which 18.5 tonnes was nets and 5 tonnes was other types of marine waste. Among the waste removed were several hundred metres of gill nets and long lines.
As the organisers of the Rerutn to Ithaca campaign point out, prevention is the only way to stop ghost nets and ocean degradation.
Photo: Cor Kuyvenhoven/Ghost Diving
There are places where access is practically impossible and only occasionally a lucky few get to see them with their own eyes. They certainly include the flooded La Morépier mine in Belgium, which our editorial colleague Stefan Panis wrote about. You will find his article in the 18th issue of our the DIVERS24 quarterly magazine! The digital version of the magazine is available free of charge, while the printed version can be purchased from our online shop.
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