Safety Procedures and Best Practices for Ghost Net Removal

Safety Procedures and Best Practices for Ghost Net Removal

Fishing gear has been lost, abandoned or otherwise discarded in all seas and oceans ever since fishing began. The extent and impacts of the problem have worsened significantly in recent years with the increasing levels of industrial fishing and also the increasing durability of fishing gear. Fishing activity has now extended to previously untouched offshore and deep-sea environments, which are often very sensitive to the impacts of abandoned fishing gear. The most notable damage caused by ghost nets is the entanglement of marine life that affects not only the most visible marine animals like seals, sea lions, dolphins, whales and sea turtles, but also affects commercially important fish populations with direct impact on human coastal communities. Ghost nets understandably concern us for environmental and ecological impacts. However, the increasing safety risk for navigation also deserves attention, especially considering that various cases of injury and loss of human life have been recorded. Ghost nets removal is a complex dive operation that requires time and intensive labor, can be a challenging but also satisfactory experience, and often requires an extended team including working and safety divers as well as surface support personnel. There are several aspects to consider when planning a removal: • Training • Site inspection • Equipment to be used • Safety and emergency equipment • Participants Unfortunately, there are no standards, practices or guidelines to properly face this problem; all techniques used today are relatively arbitrary. The actual procedures are typically created by sport diving instructors who know about technical diving and applied their knowledge and experience, or a public safety diver who learned how to remove fishing gear, in some cases these procedures do not meet the actual needs of the job, especially on safety. These techniques are generally not tested and are not discussed in forums with experts.