Ghost Fishing is what fishing gear does when it has been lost, dumped or abandoned. Imagine a fishing net that gets snagged on a reef of a wreck and gets detached from the fishing vessel. Nets, long lines, fish traps or any man made contraptions designed to catch fish or marine organisms are considered capable of ghost fishing when unattended. And without anyone profiting from the catches, affecting already depleted commercial fish stocks. Caught fish die and in turn attract scavengers which will get caught in that same net, thus creating a vicious circle.
Ghost nets are among the greatest killers in our oceans, and not only because of their numbers. Literally hundreds of kilometers of nets get lost every year and due to the nature of the materials used to produce these nets they can and will keep fishing for multiple decades, possibly even for several centuries.
When caught on a reef, nets do not only catch fish, turtles, crustaceans, birds or marine mammals, they also destroy hard and soft corals, wiping out complete ecosystems while swaying in the current. If caught on wrecks nets can suffocate a wreck and thereby render hiding places for marine life useless, or even trap them inside.
Divers are all too familiar with this phenomenon, especially in well fished areas. The founders of Ghost Fishing were confronted with ghost nets while diving the many wrecks in the Dutch North Sea. In 2009 they joined a local team of divers who started to clean those wrecks. After some years of local efforts it was time to broaden the horizon and get in touch with like-minded groups all over the world. And so the Ghost Fishing foundation was born.
As of March 2013, Ghost Fishing is collaborating with 14 teams worldwide to work on projects, set-up new projects and documents those through visual media, educate divers, inform a wide audience and raise social awareness. The Foundation exchanges solutions and best practices and maintains a steady stream of information through social media, and a website that offers extensive information and possibilities for interaction.
Collecting ghost nets is also part of a broader mission in which The Foundation works towards sustainable recycling of the nets, that will be used as raw material for new products.
The Ghost Fishing foundation was started as a non-profit organization in November 2012 and has already presented itself at the Hylkesukelus 2013, a wreck diving seminar in Helsinki, Finland, Duikvaker 2013, The Netherlands where the message was well received and many valuable contacts were made. The next event will be Baltictech Conference 2013 in Poland where the most recent material of our work will be shown.
In 2013 we hope to participate in clean-up work in Krnica, Croatia, Portofino, Italy and if funding permits more plans will be set-up and executed.
As marine debris is rapidly becoming a greater problem, it is imperative to take real action as soon as possible. Ghost Fishing intends to collect funds to finance clean-ups, to sponsor gear, to train divers and to raise public awareness.
To learn more click on the logo below!
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