02 Aug 2023

"The Dutch" support Ghost Diving UK volunteers in cleaning up the SS Mars

On the 29th of July 2023, a team of incredible volunteers from Ghost Diving UK and Ghost Diving NL came together for a noble cause - to lift a massive "ghost net" from the depths of the North Sea. The abandoned trawler net, hauntingly named a "ghost net," had been causing untold damage to our marine life and wreaking havoc on our ocean ecosystem.

From as far away as The Netherlands, these dedicated volunteers travelled to England, United Kingdom, to embark on their mission. The focus was on removing a huge trawler net from the wreck of the SS Mars, located just a few miles off the coast of the scenic St Mary's Lighthouse Nature Reserve.

The two-day operation was no small feat! Using the dive boat Spellbinder 2 as their platform, the volunteers tackled the task with unwavering determination. The SS Mars wreck, sitting at a depth of 33 meters, was carefully cleaned of the ghost net during the first day. The very next day, they turned their attention to the Dolphin wreck off the coast of Blyth, Northumberland, lifting several gillnets in the process.

Prior to the heroic lift, the volunteers conducted surveys over three dives, meticulously planning the removal of the trawler net. The successful operation ensured that the ghost net was taken for recycling to the Journey Blues net collection program at Blyth harbour, which stood in sight of both wrecks. A true example of turning the problem into a solution!

With this courageous effort, the volunteers took a massive step towards restoring balance and protecting our precious marine friends, as well as preserving a beloved Northeast dive site.

Let's give a round of applause to the incredible team of volunteers who selflessly devoted their time and skills to this vital cause:

Jenny Staddon
Ad Groenenberg
Marcel Kersten
Andrzej Belzyt
Chris Preston
Len Cole
Dominic Willis
Nigel Aucott
Duncan Simpson

Special thanks to Skipper Alan Lopez and Deckhand Mark for their invaluable support during this mission!

Journey Blue

The nets have already been taken to Journey blue facility in the port of Blyth.

Fishing net disposal facilities have been installed at the Port of Blyth in an attempt to reduce the number of unwanted nets thrown into the sea

A container has been set up at the port’s South Harbour Terminal, near the commercial fishing facility, where fishermen can safely dispose of nets that have reached the end of their working life.

The gear will then be sorted and recycled by UK community interest company Journey Blue and local organisation North Sea Rejects.

Alistair Lawson, founder of Journey Blue, said: "We are delighted to have been approached by North Sea Rejects to work with them on this important conservation effort.

“It is the perfect scenario for us at Journey Blue, working as a team to be able to provide the coastal communities around the UK with a means to ensure there is no need to dump or send end-of-life fishing gear waste to landfill.

“It is a great opportunity for us to gain greater awareness of our work as well as introducing the programme across new parts of the UK.

“The material collected will be cleaned, shredded, pelletised, and put back into the manufacturing process of products using recycled ocean plastic.”

Fishing line recycling bins have also been recently installed around the port.

Edwin Dick, harbour master at the Port of Blyth, said: "It is fantastic to be facilitating a project that will undoubtedly have a huge impact on the River Blyth.

“Abandoned fishing gear is deadly to marine life and makes up a huge amount of plastic pollution within the sea.

“By working closely with our commercial and leisure fishing network we can make a huge difference."

(From an article in the Northern echo.)

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