Winter Warmer inspires divers to tackle ghost gear

Ghost Fishing UK team at the Winter Warmer event, January 2019Ghost Fishing UK team at the Winter Warmer. Image: Jamie Hall

Tickets sold out for the Winter Warmer event, held at the National Diving and Activities Centre, Chepstow at the weekend. Across Saturday and Sunday members of the diving community, and the general public got an insight into Ghost Fishing UK’s vital work in cleaning the seas.

Dive sessions were led by Ghost Fishing UK instructors Christine Grosart, Peter Ellwood, Toni Norton, Fred Nunn, Rich Walker, and John Wheeler. Scuba divers were put through their paces in some key skills and drills used for ghost gear removal. Marine life and ghost gear surveying techniques were a further focus of the dives.

“I had an amazing weekend with awesome people! I absolutely take my hat off to you all! Ghost fishing skill set, professionalism, and dedication is humbling! It’s a unique project, that I hope to get more involved with,” said Winter Warmer attendee Sue

Meanwhile non-divers were treated to activities including a rope mat making workshop delivered by Mark Cook of Afrayedknot by video conference from Orkney!

A programme of speakers further enthused attendees.

  • Mae Dorricott, marine biologist and Our World Underwater European Rolex Scholar gave a speech on the problem of ocean plastics and their devastating effect on marine life and habitats;
  • Charlotte Bolton, National Coordinator for Seasearch, a citizen science project by the Marine Conservation Society, spoke about why identification of marine flora and fauna is of great importance to ocean conservation; and
  • Rannva Joermundsson, of divewear brand Fourth Element, talked about how monofilament nets, once removed from the ocean by Ghost Fishing UK, are turned into ECONYL® yarn, which is now being used in the company’s Ocean Positive range.

The Winter Warmer was designed to reach out to those who have an interest in removing plastics, and saving marine life, and to include them in the conversation on conservation.

“I was truly flattered to see the amount of interest in our project from the diving community. We are extremely excited about getting these divers involved in our work, and continuing our efforts to clean the seas around the UK.” said Rich Walker, Ghost Fishing UK’s chairman.

Ghost gear is typically entangled on reefs and wrecks, and its removal can be complicated. Removal involves a high degree of teamwork, coordination and discipline. Awareness has grown within the public over the last five years, but there is such a long way to go. Modern fishing equipment is designed to withstand the forces of nature – ghost gear is not going anywhere unless action is taken now.

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Photographs from the Ghost Fishing UK Winter Warmer 2019.

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