Watch: Divers remove 2 tons of ghost nets to protect seabed

Posted by Elise Kirsten on 28 August 2019

#LessGhostnetsMoreSeahorses Recap (May 18-20, 2019) from Ghost Fishing on Vimeo.

On 18th – 20th May 2019, for the second year in a row, Healthy Seas returned to a small fishing village in Stratoni, Northern Greece, to finish cleaning up a spot inhabited by rich marine biodiversity. Which up until recently, was polluted with an estimated three tons of ghost nets.

Last November, the diving team removed over one ton, and in the previous few days, four Dutch and six Greek divers pulled out two more tons of ghost nets from the seabed.

The recovery mission was carried out in collaboration with Ghost Fishing Greece, Ghost Fishing Netherlands, AquaTec and UFR Team diving teams as well as Northern Greece Underwater Explorers, with valuable support from the local community.

The education programme held on Saturday was perhaps the highlight of the 3-day event, attracting to the harbour children and their parents of the remote community, to meet and greet the divers and see for themselves just how massive ghost nets can be.

Elina Samara, a marine biologist of the newly established Hippocampus Marine Institute also joined the dives, “we spotted an impressive list of species including the protected marine mammal Delphinus delphis, the rough skate Raja radula, the pillow coral Cladocora caespitosa and the gastropod Tonna galea.

“The removal of the nets will allow the marine life to recolonize its lost habitat and will not pose any future entangling threats to the marine species inhabiting the area.”

The nearby, coastal area of Stratoni is the home of a unique colony of the two seahorse species found in the Mediterranean: Hippocampus hippocampus and Hippocampus guttulatus. These are characterized by the IUCN as “near threatened.” These animals are vulnerable to entanglement in nets, and to habitat loss.

Ghost Fishing, which published the video above on its Vimeo page reported, “the recovered fishing nets will now begin their journey, from waste to wear.

“First, they will be transported to Diopas S.A, a partner of Healthy Seas in Northern Greece, on to Norwegian company Nofir A.S for cleaning and sorting and then to Aquafil’s plant in Slovenia where, together with other nylon waste, they will be regenerated into ECONYL® yarn, the infinitely recyclable material.

“This will provide the basis for beautiful new products such as socks, sportswear, swimwear, and carpets. Healthy Seas is an excellent example for the circular economy, where waste is a resource.”

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