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Project launches to clear and research Scapa Flow ‘ghost gear’

Ghost fishing gear in Scapa Flow photographed by diver Peter Verhoog.
Ghost fishing gear in Scapa Flow photographed by diver Peter Verhoog.
An operation to remove lost fishing gear and other marine debris from Scapa Flow is set to begin this weekend.

Global animal welfare charity World Animal Protection UK are supporting a team of specialist divers from the UK to clear lost creels, fishing net and rope from Scapa Flow.

Dr Joanne Porter, a marine researcher from Heriot Watt University, will also be part of the project to study the effects of this waste and work to reduce it.

The project, initiated by Ghost Fishing UK, aims to draw together groups from around the UK and develop a skilled team of divers that can recover ghost gear both in Scapa Flow and further afield in the UK.

The team will be supported by Bob Anderson, the skipper of MV Halton, and will be based in Stromness for the duration of the work, which is due to run between Sunday and Friday.

The week will focus on learning safe techniques for recovering ghost gear, surveying the marine life trapped by ghost gear, and linking these data to a global ghost gear database.

Lost or discarded fishing nets, lines and pots, otherwise known as ‘ghost gear’, continue to catch and cause the unnecessary suffering and death of marine life and place additional strain on fishing stocks.

Last year on a similar mission, over 60 pots and creels, large fishing nets, two kilometres of ropes, including divers shot lines, and a significant amount of other fishing debris was recovered and a large proportion recycled.

At 120 square miles, Scapa Flow is one of the world’s largest natural harbours and the sea around Orkney has one of the largest concentrations of shipwrecks anywhere in the world.

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