Introducing the organisations that supported our Shetland project
Who we are & What we do
Ghost Fishing UK is an award-winning British registered charity (no: 1174396)
Established in 2015, Ghost Fishing UK is dedicated to removing Abandoned, Lost, and Discarded Fishing Gear known as ‘Ghost Gear’.
The organisation consists of volunteer scuba divers, with extensive training in advanced diving practices, specifically in relation to minimising the impact on the environment.
Our purpose is to remove, where possible, lethal entanglement hazards to marine life and scuba divers from the marine environment.
Ghost Fishing UK is completely independent, with over 70 volunteer divers and supporters working hard to tackle the Ghost Gear problem.
Plastic Free Awards 2021 – Winner
Fishing news Awards 2022 – Winner
The problem of ghost fishing gear is long-standing but has only really reached public prominence in the last few years. It is a normal but unfortunate part of fishing that nets, pots and lines become lost. This is rarely a deliberate act on behalf of the fishing community but simply a reality of a very harsh environment.
The lost gear continues to catch marine life, as it is designed to do. This has an undoubted but poorly documented effect on the local and global marine ecosystem. It is clearly undesirable, and nobody benefits from ‘Ghost Gear’ being present in the ocean.
Animals are needlessly caught and killed by this Ghost Gear which, unless removed from the sea, continues in a vicious circle of catching animals which in turn act as bait for larger animals and so on.
What we do
Ghost Fishing UK was set up around 2015 by dedicated divers to try to remove this lost equipment from the marine environment. It is a challenging and difficult task. Ghost gear is typically entangled in reefs and wrecks, and its removal can be complicated.
Ghost Fishing divers survey the site first and collect data on the ghost gear and any animals trapped, alive and dead. Data is collected via our ghost gear reporting system and the mandatory activity form, which all projects must complete. This data is critical to provide evidence of the ghost gear problem and adds weight to the mission to reduce it.
The removal technique involves divers attaching bags to the gear, which the diver fills with air, making them float. The divers then cut the gear free as close to the seabed as possible. Great care is needed to ensure that the diver does not become entangled with the equipment. This involves a high degree of teamwork, coordination and discipline.
Now and the Future
Ghost Fishing UK is a registered charity built from dedicated volunteers who give up their free time to run the organisation, raise public and government awareness of the Ghost Fishing issue and dive to document and recover lost fishing gear.
Ghost Fishing UK wrote the first Ghost Fishing course in the world and is the largest organisation engaged in this activity.
Ghost Fishing UK is actively training new divers on the ‘Ghost Fishing course’ created in early 2018. Groups of regional divers are now active in responding to reports of Ghost Gear and setting up local projects to remove it.
All scuba divers can contribute to the clean-up of our oceans by reporting any ghost gear they see on their dives to Ghost Fishing UK through our online reporting system on this website.
Partners and Associates
Ghost Fishing UK volunteers are always fundraising to help cover the hefty costs of recovering Ghost Gear. The charity receives funding from various sources, and we welcome businesses who would like to get involved, either with our fundraising campaigns or funding one-off recovery missions.
Ghost Fishing UK has featured heavily in the media, raising awareness of the ghost gear problem and has featured on programmes such as the BBC One Show, Springwatch, Devon & Cornwall show and Sky News.
Ghost Fishing UK has a talented pool of underwater videographers and photographers, and we work closely with the media for maximum public outreach.
We run talks and events around the country and have a selection of guest speakers. Please see our FAQs page for more information.