SDI and Sea Shepherd UK launch the first accredited Ghost Net Recovery Specialty Course

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Ghost nets are fishing nets that have been left by fishermen or lost in the ocean. Sometimes almost invisible in the dim sun, these nets may be left tangled on a rocky reef or floating in the open sea. Fish, dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, dugongs, crocodiles, seabirds, crabs, and other beings, including occasional human divers, may be entangled. The networks, working as planned, limit movement, causing hunger, laceration and infection and suffocation in those who need to return to the surface to breathe.

Scuba Diving International (SDI) is very proud to work with Sea Shepherd UK to develop a “Ghost Net Recovery” specialty course, launched in August 2019. Ghost Nets are a huge problem in our oceans. Fishing nets, lines and pots are often lost by fishermen as part of their daily operations. These continue to catch fish and other marine life long after they have been lost. As divers, we see the problems that this lost gear causes but we also have the opportunity to get involved in trying to clean up at least some of these lost nets.

The Sea Shepherd UK Ghost Net campaign has been incredibly successful in recovering large amounts of Ghost Nets and gear as well as engaging in outreach and education on the issue. More and more divers want to get involved in the project – but there are significant risks in lifting ghost nets and it is essential that proper training is provided before anyone attempts to lift a net or other lost/discarded fishing gear. By Sea Shepherd teaming up with SDI this allows specially trained instructors to provide a recognized training program that covers all of the surveying, lifting techniques and safety considerations required to perform this activity.

The SDI Sea Shepherd Ghost Net Recovery course has been developed with Sea Shepherd and active SDI instructors involved in the project and formalizes the training program that has been delivered to already Sea Shepherd UK’s volunteer divers.

SDI is recognized worldwide and is a member of the WRSTC, RSTC-US, RSTC-Europe. It is accredited by the EUF as meeting all relevant EN and ISO standards. In addition, SDI was heavily involved in the creation of the new ISO standards on “Requirements for training on environmental awareness for recreational divers” and “Requirements and guidance on sustainable practices in recreational diving”.

 “Sea Shepherd is thrilled to be partnering with Scuba Diving International on this world’s first accredited ‘Ghost Net Retrieval’ speciality course. Our thanks goes especially to Tony Land (Sea Shepherd UK’s Ghost Net Campaign coordinator, dive instructor and technical diver), John Crawshaw (owner of Dive Manchester, SDI/TDI/PADI instructor) who have been working in cooperation with the renowned Mark Powell of DIVE-TECH who is a TDI Instructor, a member of TDI’s Global Training Advisor Panel, represents TDI on the British Diving Safety Group and on the HSE’s Recreational Diving Industry Committee – and is also a member of the Diver Training and Breathing Apparatus committees at the British Standards Institute”

Robert Read, Chief Operating Officer at Sea Shepherd UK

Further Information

In January 2018 Sea Shepherd UK (marine conservation charity registration number 1110501) launched our Ghost Net Campaign to remove hazardous ghost fishing gear from coastal areas around England, Scotland and Wales.

Once lost or discarded, sections of fishing net and other fishing equipment can drift through the ocean or be left snagged on wrecks, rocks and reefs indiscriminately killing marine wildlife for decades.

Our Ghost Net campaign divers and crew work closely with the Marine Management Organisations and other relevant authorities in England, Scotland and Wales to ensure that ghost fishing equipment is removed safely, legally and without harm to the environment or wildlife.

Assigned year-round to the campaign are Sea Shepherd UK’s RIBs:

Ghost’ – a twin 115hp engine 7.4m Atlantic 75
Phantom’ – a single 115hp engine 5.8m Humber Destroyer
WithSiren‘ – a single 90hp engine 5.5m Humber Destroyer (in reserve)

All three boats are fitted with 3D structure scan sonar to pinpoint wrecks and to help identify and locate objects on or above the seafloor.

If you are a diver interested in joining Sea Shepherd UK’s Ghost Net campaign crew and would like to be accredited by SDI on this new specialty, or if you can donate a boat or dive equipment to the campaign – please contact Tony at: https://www.seashepherd.org.uk

The student pre-requisites for the SDI Sea Shepherd Ghostnet Retrieval speciality course are:

  • SDI Advanced Adventurer (or equivalent)
  • Minimum age 21
  • Documented proof of 100 logged dives

Learn More at: https://www.seashepherd.org.uk/news-and-commentary/news/sdi-and-ssuk-first-ghostnet-recovery-course.html

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Kathy is the owner of Kirk Scuba Gear, a passionate Scuba Diver, Ocean Advocate and Managing Editor of The Scuba News Canada

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