Divers Clear Dangerous ‘Ghost Nets’ from Santorini Waters

An international team of eight volunteers from the Netherlands, France and Greece have taken part in a dive off Santorini to remove lost or abandoned fishing nets.

The divers managed to clear a huge net spanning about 150 meters from the sea. Old and abandoned nets — also called ghost nests — are dangerous to sea creatures, causing them to become entangled and suffer agonizing deaths.

Ghost nets are also dangerous since they are made of plastic, particles of which end up in the human food chain.

The mission was organized by Healthy Seas along with Cousteau Divers, Ghost Fishing and the Atlantis Oia diving center. The Italian diving fabric maker Carvico S.p.A. was the exclusive sponsor of the event.

The dive was live streamed around the world for educational purposes while Pierre-Yves Cousteau, founder of the Cousteau Divers, described the mission live from the bottom of the sea.

Pascal van Erp, founder of Ghost Fishing, said: “The submarine geomorphology of Santorini was formed thousands of years ago from volcanic eruption. The Caldera, where the nets were found, is essentially one giant lagoon with very sharp points that quickly reach a depth of 400 meters.”

“Therefore, the expedition required a very strict dive design and teamwork to safely remove fishing nets from the water,” he continued. “It was also challenging to conduct the live streaming through two-way communication, which we accomplished thanks to the great efforts of an excellent team.”

After the nets were removed from the bottom, they were safely placed in large bags
and will be transported to a cleaning facility. Then they will be delivered to Aquafil,
which will turn them into an ECONYL thread that will then be used by Carvico
in the production of swimsuits.

For many years Pierre-Yves Cousteau has led actions for protection of the marine environment of Santorini and the establishment of a Marine Protected Area.

“Collaboration in Santorini with Healthy Seas, Ghost Fishing and Atlantis Oia
was a great experience. Professionalism and dedication to the protection of the sea
environment have made it possible for the abandoned nets to be removed successfully.

“We hope that this action will help people in Santorini and everywhere in the world
to understand the critical condition of the seas and to unite to stop their destruction,” Cousteau said.