Divers recover 1500 kilograms of lost fishing gear from Shetland waters: part 3

MV Valhalla about to recover some ghost gear

Ghost Fishing UK’s Shetland mission has concluded for 2023. In this, the last of a three part series, we’ll showcase the organisations who helped us achieve this mission.

Twelve volunteer divers travelled to Shetland with the help of Northlink Ferries sponsoring their travel, helping out with a project that totaled £18,000 to run.

Northlink said “We are delighted to be able to support such a worthwhile project…we hope [Ghost Fishing UK] have a good journey home. Well done to all involved. It looks like they have had a very successful time in Shetland clearing ghost gear. We are proud sponsors.”

Our divers were grateful to receive support from Reel Diving and Halcyon Dive Systems who provided extra reinforcements such as extra bright pink lifting bags, surface marker buoys, reels and regulators.

The charity requested assistance from a local haulier and the very same day, Bryan Hepburn from DFDS Shetland responded. “As soon as I heard about Ghost Fishing UK I knew this was something we’d be keen to support,” Bryan explained. “Cleaning debris from the sea, helping inshore fishermen recover lost gear and working in sympathy with local communities all chime with our core values and lived experience as members of a remote fishing community. With everything we do at DFDS supporting the cold chain transport of seafood across the UK we do it responsibly and sensibly. The team at Ghost Fishing UK are similar, the work they have done and the expertise they’ve shown is impressive.”

DFDS assisted us in shipping the sorted and cleaned ropes to our recycling partner Ocean Plastic Pots, and the remaining ropes to Somerset for collection by artists, jewellery makers and similar. At the end of the week, we were delighted that the quayside was empty.

Lerwick Port Authority also supported the project, by offering an ideal berth for free to the team. Stuart Wadley, the Port Authority’s HSEQ Manager, said: “Ghost Fishing is to be congratulated on its efforts which are in line with our own commitment to protect the environment in all our operations and to work with third parties wherever appropriate. Ghost nets are often from foreign vessels and full of unintended catch.”

Last but certainly not least, we are extremely grateful to the public who have donated money this year in supporting the project during two fundraising campaigns.

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.