Divers can help by reporting location of ghost nets
It was a successful start to the campaign: A big trawl net and gillnet weighing about 1.5 tons were located and recovered from the Baltic Sea in the first salvage operation by the WWF.
A fisherman and a specially designed "power rake" were instrumental in helping to retrieve discarded fishing nets lying on the seabed, and in getting them hoisted aboard. WWF marine expert Philipp Kanstinger said that the new device, which was currently being tested in areas where trawling took place, was considerably smaller and more compatible than conventional bottom trawls. The data obtained during the search operations can be used as a foundation to develop a map of suspected sites of ghost fishing.
Of course, this method is unsuitable for areas where there are shipwrecks or munitions at the seabed.
In July, the recovery operation continued off Usedom in the Baltic Sea where about 10,000 nets or parts of the nets are lost every year. About a tenth of the world's plastic waste is in the form of ghost nets, which can take up to four centuries to completely disintegrate.
After two years of extensive preparation, discussions and submission of applications, it was finally possible for the WWF Germany and its partners to resume its search for ghost nets, an exercise that was started in 2014. WWF Germany will study the environmental impact of different recovery and recycling methods over the next three years.
The organisation has been examining better ways of finding and retrieving the ghost nets. In addition, a study will be undertaken to find out which ports are best for sending the retrieved nets to. This will go towards the standardisation of such procedures in the Baltic region.
In short, search areas must have potential for the retrieval of ghost nets. To this end, WWF Germany works closely with fishermen and divers. This is because fishermen know where the ghost nets are, while divers can see how the nets have been entangled underwater. Knowing such information will facilitate effective planning and implementation of recovery efforts.
You can be part of this effort by sending details of the positions, descriptions and photos of nets that you come across to Geisternetze@wwf.de so they can be included in a Baltic-specific database. There will also be a newsletter with updates of recovered nets.
More information: www.wwf.de
Divers thwart scourge of ghost nets in North Sea reserve