Divers recover 1500 kilograms of lost fishing gear from Shetland waters: part 2

Net on the shipwreck Fraoch Ban. Image: Rich Walker

Ghost Fishing UK’s Shetland mission removed 1500 kilograms of lost fishing gear from Shetland’s waters. In this, the second of a three part series introducing the Shetland mission, we talk about our outreach activities.

Public outreach is an important part of Ghost Fishing UK’s purpose. Our volunteer divers see the problems ghost gear causes, but the non-diving public do not. If we are to reduce the impact of ghost gear on the environment the public needs to care about it. To care they need to know about it, and we need to show them.

Richard Walker, Chair of Ghost Fishing UK and honorary associate professor of citizen science, was keen that Our Shetland project had a scientific element. He said, “Successful outcomes in conservation efforts require a huge cooperation between volunteers, industrial partners and the scientific community. The citizen science performed by Ghost Fishing UK divers for the Scottish Entanglement Alliance, augmented by professional scientific input from University Highlands and Islands, mean that the data recorded will form the foundations of ongoing conservation work in Shetland and around the United Kingdom.”

During our Shetland mission this year we hosted an event at the Shetland Museum, with food provided by Hay’s Dock, followed by speakers from Ghost Fishing UK with an update on the Shetland project, then a talk from Arlene Robertson of Fishing Forward about concerns surrounding industrial gill netting and pollution. The evening rounded up with a talk from Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary followed by a question and answer session for the audience.

Attendee Jeanette said: “What a splendid, informative evening! Well done for organising. Great to hear about the work Ghost Fishing UK do and [Fishing Forward] did a great job speaking up about the impossible situation the fishermen here and in the UK are finding themselves in. Hats off to you for all you are doing.”

Spokesperson for Fishing Forward, Alastair Inkster said “We had a very enjoyable presentation in the Lerwick museum from the Ghost Fishing UK team of divers in Shetland, at present recovering lost netting and creels. The work this team is doing in cleaning up our marine environment is invaluable and we at Fishing Forward UK fully support their work and wish them every success in future.”

Ghost Fishing UK hopes to return to Shetland to continue our work and are appealing for fishers to report gear losses through our dedicated reporting system.