Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is the concept, how can I join Ghost Diving?
Our organization is set up by an enthusiastic technical diving team and has evolved into more diving teams all over the world following the same concept. We like to call these "chapters". Our shared goal is to remove lost fishing gear and make the world aware of issues caused by this so called "ghost fishing gear". To achieve this goal, we involve specifically trained volunteer technical divers in our projects based on our own network and experience. These divers are trained by our core teams and gain experience with them, these two things are inextricably linked. If you want to do the work we do, contact an experienced team anywhere in the world and become part of that team. Perform this type of work on a very regular basis, experience many different situations together and learn with and from your team.
How do I become a Ghost Diver?
Due to the many dangers that lurk, it is extremely important that safety is 100% guaranteed. Removing ghost fishing gear underwater is an extremely demanding task that can only be safely performed by a good team of well-trained divers. It is all about team play. Therefore, it is important to be part of an experienced team that is completely streamlined with each other in terms of diving equipment, procedures and standards. Remember that a solid team must form themselves by training with each other and get to know each other to operate smoothly and safely, this is a process. The team needs to gain lots of experience with each other on a very regular basis. This way ensures that people can “read” and trust each other blindly in all possible situations. Imagine a no-visibility situation that easily arises when a fishing net is lifted from the bottom and suddenly harsh environmental conditions like waves/current etc. are there? It will happen.
This work will cost you lots of free time, dedication and effort and most people are not willing or unable to do so for many reasons. The skills must be repeated regularly, and you will have to get used to difficult conditions and circumstances together.
"The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in combat." ~Richard Marcinko
So, how do I train? Can I follow a course?
We can be short about this: There is no such thing as a course in this field. Courses are for teaching diving skills and equipment, not for this type of work. So you want to follow a course? Take a proper technical diving course. You can start with it yourself and lay a solid foundation. When divers want to join us, we first set the requirement that they must be technical diver.
"Technical diving is scuba diving that exceeds the agency-specified limits of recreational diving for non-professional purposes. Technical diving may expose the diver to hazards beyond those normally associated with recreational diving, and to greater risk of serious injury or death. The risk may be reduced by appropriate skills, knowledge and experience, and by using suitable equipment and procedures." ~Wikipedia
The reason is that in most cases they are already used to diving in teams and in terms of equipment, procedures and standards they are also ready to be seamlessly integrated into our teams. You are a recreational diver and this feels unfair? Believe us, ghost fishing gear removal goes far beyond recreational diving. This work isn't something a recreational diver is trained for, that's why they are called "recreational". It is all about task load, something you learn in a technical diver training. Once you have completed a technical diving course you will understand this better.
Okay, now that it is clear which course you need, we move on to the next step: Like we already said, it all revolves around team play so you will start with only that. You go with us and we will determine together whether you fit in the team and whether you are a team player at all. This is not something you learn in a course, this is you (or in some cases not..) During the dives that follow you do nothing but watching the team and you are given tasks to keep an eye on safety and to shine with your dive light to give the removal divers a good overview of their work area. You will rotate as much as possible to accommodate as many different team tasks and situations as possible. When it all goes well, we will increase the task load in a controlled manner and you will learn what you are capable of. The learning curves are usually high due to the enthusiasm when one feels comfortable enough.
Of course, if after all this you are finally part of a team, you will have seen quite a few things and we are ready to bring you a step further. We do this with internal training based on our own developed Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), that takes place both above and below water and even maritime safety drills will be part of this cycle. After all, we work at sea! You will get it all when you are ready for action.
But there are "courses" offered right?
Unfortunately, we do see a certain trend emerging and several ghost gear / fishing "courses" are offered. We get it, when a topic becomes popular, other interests will come into play. And then... quantity counts and it will turn into a dangerous game. We do not support any of these (business) concepts. We do not intend to train large groups of divers because this kind of diving is simply not for everyone. This way individuals get encouraged to do dives they are probably not ready for and can therefore find themselves in unnecessary dangerous situations. There is no single "x-day course" that can guarantee that you can safely perform this kind of work, "certification" can only create false security.
Please take our advice here and don't go there. Most of us have been doing this with a number of different groups, organizations and countries, in the most difficult circumstances since decades ...and we are still learning every dive. You have been warned: An accident is just around the corner.
But what can I do as a diver?
That all depends on what you want to achieve. For picking up marine litter at local shallow water dive sites you can start at advanced open water level. Most divers that recover fishing gear at open sea are technically trained divers with loads of experience and exclusively operating in a team. We strongly advise you to have a technical based dive training to understand and master these concepts before you even consider lifting large pieces of fishing gear.
However, the majority of the divers can participate one way or another working on shallow water activities like collecting marine litter and small loose parts of lost fishing gear. There are several ghost gear removal specialties available provided by for example SDI and PADI to understand the basic concepts of shallow water marine litter removal. For all advanced levels we recommend you to contact one of our chapters close to your country, please do not experiment yourself.
Looking for technical dive training that incorporates a stable platform and teamwork? Visit the Global Underwater Explorers website, this is one of the technical diving agencies who can teach you this.
Already a technical diver and ready to join our teams? Contact us for further options, we have developed our own procedures since 2009, now used as a basis for many organizations around us.
Do you like to start your own activity or initiative?
Great idea! And we are happy to help you with this, just ask!
You are already taking action in your ow region and you like to start a Ghost Diving chapter?
Please do not hesitate to contact us.
I have photos of ghost gear / ghost fishing, can I send them to you?
Yes of course, please leave a request through our contact page. Or contact us via Facebook. Make sure you include a written report explaining what we see and where it took place.
I am already working with a group of volunteers; can we work together?
Yes, we can! Contact us explaining what you are doing and where. Give us your contact details and we will be in touch to schedule a call through Skype, messenger or any other web based communication that works for us both.
Do you take donations?
Yes we do! As a registered charity organization, Ghost Diving relies completely on donations, please check out our donate page. Thank you!
Can you help us financially?
No, for now we cannot as we are a volunteer based charity organization. We too rely on donations and sponsors.
Can we sponsor you?
Leave a message through our contact page or via Facebook. We do need funds, but we also value our independence, so any offer has to go through our Board.
How do I distinguish derelict fishing gear from active fishing gear?
Fishing equipment is specific to everybody of water and every target catch. It mostly comes down to common sense. As a rule of thumb, you can say that most fishing equipment that are still active have a means of retrieval in place. This could be a stick, a line with buoy or, they might be connected to other equipment through a string. If this means of retrieval is absent, chances are that the fishing equipment are not actively used or, they were lost. Also, the equipment should be clean. Growth of algae is a sign that they have been there for a while. Active fishing equipment gets checked by their owners quite often.
To make sure you could have a talk with local fishermen and have them explain how they work. Have them show you their equipment and talk to them about their procedures. Explain what you are doing and why you are asking.