About our Global Mission
‘Ghost Fishing’ is what fishing gear does when it has been lost, dumped or abandoned in the seas and oceans. Imagine a fishing net that gets snagged on a reef or 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. Without anyone profiting from the catches, they are 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.
The issue of “ghost fishing” was first brought to the attention of world at the 16th Session of the FAO Committee on Fisheries in April 1985. Following debate at COFI, the FAO Secretariat published an in-depth study of the problem.
It is estimated that 640,000 tons of fishing gear gets lost or abandoned in the seas and oceans each year. (UNEP/FAO, 2009). They are among the greatest killers in the oceans, and not only because of their numbers. Literally hundreds of kilometers of nets and lines get lost every year and due to the nature of the materials used to produce these types of gear, they can and will keep fishing for multiple decades, possibly even for several centuries.
Ghost Diving is driven by volunteer technical divers who carry out lost fishing gear removal projects and raise awareness about the ghost fishing issue on a global scale.
Physically removing nets, fishing gear and other marine debris
Since 2009, our volunteer divers have removed hundreds of tons of lost fishing nets, fishing gear and other marine debris from shipwrecks, reefs and the seabed, gaining valuable experience and at the same time perfecting our own techniques.
The power lies in making the problem visible. We therefore work with professional underwater photographers and film makers to document our actions for evaluation and presentation purposes.
Ensuring diving safety
We stick to standards & procedures to reduce risks to a minimum and will only work with divers who have adequate training and experience.
Disclaimer: It needs to be clear that this work is dangerous. Reading the website or watching the videos in NO way replaces proper training and experience. On request, we can advise you about this topic.
Recycling marine debris
Some types of marine debris such as fishing nets (plastic) and weights (lead) can be recycled. We collect these materials and are interested in cooperating with companies specialized in these processes.
Sharing knowledge and best practices
We have extensive knowledge of many types of fishing techniques, marine waste and identifying marine life. We like to share this knowledge and are willing to learn from others.
Education & presentation
We give educational presentations to (diving) clubs and during meetings, (dive) exhibitions and shows.
Getting involved is what we are about, we need as many initiatives as possible, that is the only way we can get things done.
Every diver can take environmental action!
Start your own initiative or chapter?
Get your friends together, organize local clean-ups and have fun doing things together. You don’t have to immediately start hauling large nets out of the ocean, just start by removing debris from your local dive site and expand from there. Do not go beyond your capabilities and always keep things safe. Start your initiative with your own team, we will recognize you as an affiliated initiative on our website and help you raise awareness after we have made contact and explained our requirements.
How to lift large nets?
If you have to ask this question it is probably wise to wait before you attempt this and get some training first. Most of our volunteers have hundreds of hours of diving experience and are technically trained. Undertaking this really requires proficiency in using lift bags, knives and teamwork. Besides that, the best method to lift a net depends on local circumstances like currents, tides, waves, types of net. Basically, too many variables to simply sum up in a simple how to.